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NASA Partners With USDA On Variety Of Projects

Elvia Thompson
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1696)

Sandy Miller-Hays
(Phone: 301/504-1636)

March 5, 2003

RELEASE: 03-093

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe and Agriculture Secretary (USDA) Ann M. Veneman announced the two agencies will join forces on a series of programs drawing on NASA's capabilities in monitoring, mapping, modeling and systems engineering to help protect the environment and enhance American agriculture's ability to compete in the world market.

NASA and USDA representatives participated in a workshop this week in Denver to identify collaborative research and development programs for the joint program. The workshop concentrated on five "focus areas" identified as national priorities of mutual interest: carbon management, agricultural competitiveness, air quality, water management and conservation, and management of invasive species.

"NASA is pleased to be part of this worthwhile effort, benefiting all Americans and humankind in general," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "NASA's ability to view the Earth from the unique vantage point of space provides data to enhance our ability to predict climate, weather and natural hazards, as well as to mitigate and assess the effects of natural and human-induced disasters. As NASA works to understand and protect our home planet, the relevant and concise information we provide will allow USDA and other U.S. government agencies to make critical, accurate, and timely decisions," he said.

"We in USDA are very excited about the possibilities opened up by this new collaboration," Veneman said. "For example, to improve our agricultural competitiveness, we need a better understanding of weather and climate, especially the ability to predict weather events with more accuracy and longer lead times. The results from NASA research and development of earth science and technology could lead to weather and climate predictions and observations that can be integrated into local and regional support systems used in agricultural management," she said."

Participants discussed USDA policy and program needs that might be fulfilled by remote sensing information provided by NASA; identified current research and capabilities of both NASA and USDA that could help address those needs; pinpointed gaps in existing knowledge and research. They also outlined opportunities for collaborative research and development efforts between USDA and NASA to develop products and solutions to serve decision makers.

Information from this week's workshop will be used by a USDA/NASA Interagency Working Group in evaluating and establishing new research efforts, remote sensing systems, and models for decision support in agricultural systems. The information resulting from the workshop will also be incorporated into the plans of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, which seeks to meet NASA's mission of understanding and protecting our home planet.

For more information about NASA or NASA's Earth Science Enterprise on the Internet, visit:

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