Negev institute joins dozens of others from around the world working together on emergency response to range of threats including earthquakes and tsunamis; Earth and Planetary Image Facility also serves as regional NASA lab

Ynet | Published: 10.15.20

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs has chosen the Earth and Planetary Image Facility at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev as its partner for a crisis management center in Israel.

The Regional Support Office for Disaster Management and Emergency Response collects data from space, working alongside experts from other UNOOSA partner countries in order to reduce risks and emergency situations worldwide.

פרופ' דן בלומברג, ד"ר שמרית ממן וד"ר שיריש ראבן קומר, שותף ממטה האו"ם בווינה
L-R: Dr. Shirish Ravan of the UN-SPIDER India office with Dr. Shimrit Maman and Prof. Dan Blumberg of Ben-Gurion University at the UNOOSA headquarters in Vienna
(Photo: Soyoung Chang)

BGU’s Earth and Planetary Image Facility, which focuses on the use of remote sensing, is responsible for multi-disciplinary scientific research collected from satellite data for environmental purposes. The lab also serves as a regional NASA lab for planetary imaging and will be the 25th center to join the organization, adding expertise in the field of satellite technology to the UN-SPIDER (Space-Based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response) network.

UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said: “I am delighted to see the UN-SPIDER’s network of RSOs continuously growing, adding diverse, top-class expertise to its resources and allowing the sharing of knowledge on a global scale. Through the RSOs, our work to help countries leverage space tools to counteract disasters is scaled up to improve the lives of more people worldwide.”

פרופ' דן בלומברג, ד"ר שמרית ממן וד"ר שיריש ראבן קומר, שותף ממטה האו"ם בווינה
The UNOOSA headquarters in Vienna
(Photo: Soyoung Chang)

Prof. Dan G. Blumberg, Vice-President of Ben-Gurion University for Industrial and Regional Development, said the institute’s technology was being used to help with a range of crises, including natural disasters. “This is an exciting moment where we will be making our long-term scientific knowledge available to support relief efforts when needed,” he said. “Our ability to observe Earth from space and rapidly analyze complex imagery is being put to good use worldwide, mitigating disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes, drought and others,” he said. “We wish our University and UNOOSA a fruitful collaboration on capacity building and training in this very important field.”

EPIF Laboratory Director Dr. Shimrit Maman, who will manage the new office, said the venture would not be the last of its kind.