NOAA 03-050
Contact: John Leslie

NOAA News Releases 2003
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The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will conduct a conference in Washington, D.C. this week bringing leading government and corporate satellite experts to discuss challenges facing the growing commercial satellite remote sensing industry. Federal officials herald the industry as critical to the economy, the environment, U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.

“Commercial Satellite Remote Sensing Symposium: Improving The International Business Environment” kicks off today and will continue through May 15 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans, along with top officials from NOAA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey are scheduled to speak.

Organizers have arranged panel discussions covering topics from the current state of the remote sensing market, to finance and investment strategies, and the regulatory policies of the United States and other countries.

“The symposium will clarify the conditions in the commercial remote sensing industry,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “NOAA works closely with this industry, both as a regulator and a user of data, and the symposium will foster continued mutual interaction.”

NOAA National Environmental Satellites and Information Service licenses the operation of private remote sensing space systems, in consultation from the departments of Defense, State, Interior and other agencies. To date, NOAA has awarded 18 operating licenses to 14 companies.

From space, remote sensing systems take the pulse of the Earth’s surface by absorbing the electromagnetic waves that are emitted or reflected by the objects being sensed, including land masses and bodies of water. A licensed satellite remote sensing system receives and stores these data.

Companies then sell these data to their customers, including government agencies. Data acquired from commercial sources can be applied to interests including economic development, military planning, natural disaster reduction, coastal monitoring, mapping and charting, and safe navigation.

Gregory W. Withee, assistant administrator for NOAA Satellites and Information Services, said, “this week’s symposium is about strengthening the dialogue between the private and public sector, so that the remote sensing industry can continue to grow and develop.”

NOAA National Environmental Satellites and Information Service is the nation’s primary source of space-based meteorological and climate data. It operates the nation’s environmental satellites, which are used for weather and ocean observation and forecasting, climate monitoring and other environmental applications, including sea-surface temperature, fire detection and ozone monitoring. NOAA’s commercial licensing program draws on NOAA’s heritage in satellite operations and remote sensing applications.

NOAA National Environmental Satellites and Information Service also operates three data centers, which house global databases in climatology, oceanography, solid Earth geophysics, marine geology and geophysics, solar-terrestrial physics and paleoclimatology.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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