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Data sharing among space agencies still a grey area, feel experts

Despite various space agencies unanimously agreeing to collaborate for space missions, India still needs fixed policy to share information

Published: 23rd January 2020 05:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd January 2020 10:42 AM   |  A+A-

ISRO chief K Sivan attends the symposium on human space flight and exploration along with other dignitaries in Bengaluru on Wednesday | Pandarinath B

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Even as several space agencies vouched for the idea of a collaborative effort in research, scientists pointed to grey areas in data sharing. 

Scientists and officials from space agencies met at the three-day conference on human space flight and exploration, organised by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Astronautical Society of India here on Wednesday.

With research on microgravity being a big deal among space agencies, especially on the impact on human bodies, Indian scientists are developing food as per space requirements and doctors are being trained to ensure that astronauts can stay longer in space.

ISRO chairman K Sivan announced that the space agency, in the long term, is looking at how to increase human habitation in space for a prolonged period.

ISRO’s scientists associated with space missions are looking forward to the indigenous manned space mission as it holds great potential of the ability of the principal investigator or the researcher being able to access their data freely and analyse it.

Speaking to The New Indian Express, Giovanni Valentini, ISS utilisation manager, ASI, Italy, said that microgravity experiments were being held to check the impact of radiation and gravity on human muscles and tissues.

He said that often, in these experiments, it is the principal researcher who has the ownership of data. And science, unlike politics, likes to open itself up for collaborative learning, he added. 

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Meanwhile, a scientist associated with ISRO, who developed a simulator of a biological function to be tested in space, told TNIE that he did not get the results of the study for which his equipment was used by a major space agency.

Data sharing policies vary from country to country, based on their space agencies, and individually, for each project too there is a separate policy — either it’s on an MoU basis where collaborated research takes place with some amount of give-and-take between two countries or at times, a country plays host to another agency’s technology and gets paid for it. In these cases, because the monetary reward is given to the country whose capacities are used, the data will not be shared with it.

“There is no black and white with data sharing even today,” said another ISRO scientist.

Taking a leaf from collaborations in Apollo and other human space missions, ISRO chief Sivan said that no agency can have a human space programme in isolation. He called upon representatives of various space agencies across the globe that attended the three-day deliberations on human space flight and exploration, to collaborate for the Gaganyaan mission. 

Expert speak
 Alexander Byvok, director of development for manned spaceflights, Roscosmos, Russia, said that any experiment was significant not only for the sake of space science, but also for its applications in other areas
 Thomas Reiter from the European Space agency said that collaborations in developing space applications and manned flights were more efficient when working for mankind
 Giovanni Valentini, ISS utilisation manager, ASI, Italy, said that scientists could take advantage of cooperation on space missions to cooperate at a political level 
 Marius Ioan Piso, president and CEO, of Romanian space agency ROSA, said that space science sets an example for international cooperation
 Joel Montalbano, deputy program manager, ISS Program Office, Johnson Space Centre, NASA, USA, highlighted ISS as an example of peacetime cooperation in countries across the globe and attributed the success of the international space station to joint collaborations.

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