New Zealand joins NASA science mission to monitor climate change impacts

New Zealand researchers and engineers will join NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System mission after the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment signed a science partnership agreement with the world’s biggest space agency in Washington DC last year.

In a cutting-edge new collaboration, NASA’s next-generation Global Navigation Satellite System Reflectometry receivers will be installed on Air New Zealand Q300 aircraft, collecting and processing important environmental data as they fly across the country.

To support the science objectives of the mission, the University of Auckland has received $1.5 million in funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to establish a Science Payload Operations Centre to process and analyse the data for research purposes.

MBIE’s General Manager of Science, Innovation and International Dr Peter Crabtree said the aim of the partnership is to engage New Zealand researchers in a globally significant science mission.

“One of MBIE’s core roles is to build research, science and innovation capability in New Zealand, and as a result of this partnership both Air New Zealand engineers and researchers across New Zealand will now have the opportunity to work with NASA and the University of Michigan on a world-leading earth science mission.”

Dr. Gail Skofronick-Jackson, NASA’s CYGNSS Program Scientist in the agency’s Earth Science Division, said working with New Zealand provides a unique opportunity to broaden the scope of the mission to monitor the wider impacts of climate change on the environment.