Heads of JAXA and ESA Announce Strengthening of Ties

Prof Jan Woerner and Dr. Okumura. Image courtesy of JAXA.

During European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Jan Woerner’s first visit to Japan on 15-16 May 2017, he met with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) President Dr Naoki Okumura to discuss collaboration between the two agencies.

According to ESA, the objectives of the meeting were “to review current cooperation, to define future cooperation opportunities and to increase the level of bilateral cooperation”.

Following the meeting, both agencies issued a joint statement at a press conference where they gave a recap on current activities and announced future plans in specific areas.

Some of the current missions highlighted include EarthCARE, an atmospheric observation mission that aims to help tackle climate change, and BepiColombo, a Mercury exploration mission scheduled to launch in October 2018.

Both parties agreed to deepen cooperation in global sustainable development through using data obtained from earth observation satellites, especially in improving the accuracy of the Green House Gasses inventory report.

In the field of space exploration, ESA and JAXA will consider the creation of joint missions, singling out the moon as a possible area of collaboration, probably in light of ESA’s International Moon Village proposal.

As a first step, the two agencies have established joint Executive-level working groups with a view to finalize plans by the end of 2017.

Aside from meeting Dr. Okumura, Prof Jan Woerner also had two high-level meetings at Japan’s Cabinet Office and Ministry of Education, and spoke at the University of Tokyo and the 5th IAA Planetary Defense Conference taking place concurrently.  

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