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International Charter wins prestigious Pecora Award

22 November 2017

The International Charter Space and Major Disasters has received a distinguished award for providing free satellite imagery, data and information to the global community during times of crises.

The William Thomas Pecora Award is presented annually to recognise outstanding contributions by individuals or teams using remote sensing to understand Earth, educate the next generation of scientists, inform decision-makers or support natural or human-induced disaster response.

The award has been presented annually since 1974, in honour of William Thomas Pecora, former director of the US Geological Service and under-secretary of the US Department of the Interior.

Dr Pecora was a motivating force behind the establishment of civil remote sensing of Earth from space.

Since its founding in 2000, the Charter counts 16 member agencies that contribute satellite, data processing and data distribution assets. It aims at providing a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to those affected by natural or man-made disasters through Authorized Users.

Each agency member has committed resources to support the provisions of the Charter and thus is helping to mitigate the effects of disasters on human life and property.

Satellite imagery enables decision-makers, rescue teams and responders to reach victims quickly, move them to safety and select the best locations for rescue efforts.

Major Charter response efforts include the massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Nepal of 2015; the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013; Haiti's 2010 earthquake; the tragic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; the tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand in 2004; and more than 550 other disasters across the globe.

At the recent Sioux Falls South Dakota Pecora conference in the US, the International Charter Space and Major Disasters Team, currently under the ESA Lead for six months, received the award for its "outstanding support to the global community during times of crisis".

Maurice Borgeaud, Head of the Science, Applications and Climate Department in ESA Earth Observation Programmes and currently Chair of the Board of the Charter, says, "In the name of the Charter, it is a true honour to receive the Pecora Team award and I would like to thank the 16 Agencies that are working with great professionalism in the coordination of satellite resources, so that Earth observation data can be delivered as soon as possible after a natural or man-made disaster has struck."