The Coalition for Space Exploration, the leading collaboration of space industry businesses and advocacy groups, announced today the release of a statement by board member Dr. Tom Jones, a veteran astronaut who flew four space shuttle missions to conduct Earth and space science, and helped deliver the U.S. Destiny laboratory to the International Space Station.
In recent editorials to newspapers, Jones expressed his heightened appreciation of Earth's beauty and the importance of protecting the planet given his time spent in space. "Some of NASA's greatest discoveries occur when it focuses technology homeward. NASA's spacecraft provide hard data that guide citizens and policy makers toward informed decisions about the environment."
Jones cited several recent examples of NASA technology hard at work, "This month, sensors on board NASA's Aqua satellite gave firefighters a top-down view of wildfires burning in Oklahoma and Texas. Just last month, the EO-1 satellite provided disaster relief planners with an overhead view of the bulging Red River as flood waters rose in North Dakota and Minnesota. Also in March, the Landsat 5 satellite, a joint effort between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey, enabled scientists to track volcanic plumes and ash from repeated eruptions of Alaska's Mt. Redoubt."
Referencing NASA's work to protect Earth's ozone layer as a great example of long-term success, Jones noted, "NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer provided space-based images of the ozone hole that sparked concern worldwide and prompted the international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. Since 1987, more than a hundred countries have agreed to limit chemicals known to deplete the ozone layer, which shields us from the sun's dangerous ultraviolet radiation. The ozone's full recovery is still decades away, but measurements from NASA's Aura satellite show levels of the harmful compounds are starting to decline."
Jones concluded, "Improving our understanding of the environment is another way that investing in space exploration improves our lives on Earth. From the unrivaled vantage point of space, I saw Earth as a haven, our unique oasis in a harsh universe. Earth Day reminds us how our exploration of that universe will help us monitor and protect that most precious world -- our home planet."
For more information on NASA's Earth observation work and Jones' complete comments, visit www.spacecoalition.com/earth_day.cfm.