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29th of January 2021
COSPAR Award to Alex Held
The 43rd COSPAR (Committee on Space Research) Scientific Assembly will be held as a virtual event hosted in Sydney from January 28th to February 4th. A number of awards are made at each General Assembly and the COSPAR Harrie Massey Award for outstanding contributions to the development of space research in which a leadership role is of particular importance has been awarded to Alex Held from CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science.

Since arriving in Australia and joining CSIRO in 1991, Alex has focused on the use of Earth observation data to improve scientific understanding in landscape ecology and vegetation condition. He led the award-winning delivery of the Sentinel Hotspots program (2002–2006), a national capability that continues to be widely used to support bushfire response activities in Australia. Alex has been instrumental in developing the OpenDataCube initiative, as a foundation partner, which now has over 50 DataCube implementations globally and partners including NASA. As a member of the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Space Science and the Steering Committee for the 2010-2019 Decadal Plan for Space Science, he has been an influential voice in the Australian Earth observation community. Currently Director of the CSIRO Centre for Earth Observation, Alex is overseeing the establishment of the NovaSAR-1 satellite as a national research facility; this will make CSIRO’s ten per cent share in the UK radar satellite, with associated ground-segment, science program and user-engagement program, available to Australian researchers. In the international arena, he has served as member of the steering committee of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs’ Program on Space Technology for Disaster Management in Southeast Asia, and been Chair of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS). Alex is the first southern hemisphere winner of the COSPAR Massey Award, which reflects his pioneering contributions to Earth observation and the space sector in Australia and abroad. Minor Planet (8479) has been named Held in his honour.

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