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  • 50 years of Earth observation from Space and Space Law

    Paper ID



    • José Monserrat-Filho







    Over the past five decades, space-faring States and international organizations have developed impressive capabilities for observing Earth from satellite platforms. The way humankind view and live in our home planet has fundamentally transformed for the good and for the bad. These fantastic advances are showed in rich details in the excellent book “Earth Observation from Space – The First 50 Years of Scientific Achievements”, prepared by a special committee of the National Research Council of the United States National Academies published this year. Their conclusions give us solid information and a strong motivation to asess the relationship existing between the technological development of Earth Observation Systems and the development of legal instruments on these so intense and essential activities. They permit us to accomplish the very useful task of establishing to what extent the remarkable development of Earth Observation technologies has been internationaly regulated, and determine the legal deficenties and insecurity such activities face today and will be facing tomorrow. One of the conclusions says that “the full benefits of satellite observation of Earth are realized only when the essential infrastructure, such as models, computing facilities, ground networks, and trained personnel, is in place.” The clear awareness of this situation rises some legal issues: in which level are these necessities and demands looked after today by the existing documents of International Space Law? And how effective commitments should be set up in order to accelerate the dissemination of the full benefits of Earth observation satellites all over the world? The present paper aims at giving an answer to such questions.