UNESCO A World of SCIENCE: Heritage research based on space technology


Recently, A World of SCIENCE, Vol. 9, No. 4, October–December 2011, issued by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), published an article entitled Space Tech for Heritage Gets Its Own Centre to introduce the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) hosted by the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR) of CAS. Now, the full text is as follows: (Note: the “date of foundation” and the “name of the Center” in the original are incorrect. The date should be 24 July, 2011; the name should be International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage).

On 24 July, one of UNESCO’s partners in space, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, inaugurated the International Centre on the Use of Space Technologies for Cultural and Natural Heritage in Beijing, which will operate under the auspices of UNESCO.

The centre is being hosted by the Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR), an institution of the Chinese Academy of Sciences bringing together satellite data reception, satellite date processing and the Digital Earth initiative under the same roof.

‘We consider that space technologies can significantly assist in the protection of our heritage that is common to all humankind’, said Prof. Guo Huadong, Director-General of AIR, at the launch.

Upon request, the centre will provide UNESCO Member States with technical assistance in the area of space technologies, as applied to the monitoring, documentation, modelling and presentation of cultural and natural heritage sites.

Initiated by the European Space Agency and UNESCO in 2001, the Open Initiative for the Use of Space Technologies to support World Heritage today counts 53 partners among space agencies and space research institutions worldwide. One project involves the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and Cultural World Heritage Site on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Information derived from satellite imagery is included in a geographical information system used by the Mexican government to help manage the site. Belgian research organizations have used Earth observation data from the Formosat 2 and SPOT satellites to analyse the evolution of land use in the area and detect evidence of additional archaeological ruins in the surrounding tropical forest, with support from the Belgian Science Policy Office.

In its report published this year, the Space Foundation describes the Open Initiative as an outstanding example of space for governance, education and infrastructure.