Space technologies play an important role in natural resource management and environmental monitoring. Remotely sensed data in particular provide an unparalleled view of the Earth for studies that require synoptic or periodic observations. These studies include inventory, surveying and monitoring in agriculture, hydrography, geology, mineralogy, land cover, land use and environmental monitoring.
Remote sensing is a rapidly evolving technology and it is one of the important spin-offs of space applications and space science. Remote sensing has become a discipline working side-by-side with other disciplines such as photogrammetry, cartography, geodetic reference systems, global navigation satellite systems and geographic information systems (GIS). Meteorological satellites have been operating almost continuously since the beginning of the space age. In addition to forecasting of weather phenomena, observations from meteorological satellites can be used directly or together with other information in addressing issues such as global warming, ozone depletion and global climate change. Research and development satellites, giving information about the atmosphere and oceans, are also in operation.
Remote sensing and satellite meteorology activities must be carried out in accordance with international law. The Remote Sensing Principles, contained in General Assembly resolution 41/65, stipulate that remote sensing shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries, while taking into account the needs and interests of developing countries. The principles emphasize the importance of the freedom of exploration and use of outer space, to be achieved on the basis of equality. This includes the disclosure of information in cases of natural disasters or scenarios which could be harmful to the Earth’s natural environment.
In addition to principles of international law and space law, States are also guided by a number of global, regional, multilateral and bilateral agreements which specifically address remote sensing and its various uses. A number of countries have adopted national laws or policies on remote sensing activities, covering detailed provisions on how remote sensing is to be carried out. All these instruments together form the framework within which States are continuously developing Earth observation technologies in order to respond to emerging challenges related to natural resources management, land use and protection of the environment.
The IASL Global Governance of Remote Sensing Task Force is a dedicated group of global experts whose primary mission is to address contemporary and future regulatory challenges of remote sensing activities on international level.
Mrs. Hepzibah Beulah is an Assistant Professor at the Chennai Dr. Ambedkar Government Law College in Pudupakkam. She is also a Ph.D. researcher in law at the Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University. Her current research interests focus on International law, Space law, Remote sensing laws, and Artificial Intelligence. She began her thoroughly enriching corporate journey with Multi-National Companies and has moved to the academic industry with a rich and versatile experience. After successful completion of a course conducted by IIRS, ISRO on remote sensing, Mrs. Hepzibah has developed a wide range of interests on the topic. She imparts her knowledge of space law and remote sensing to her students.