NASA Partners with Saudi Arabia on Moon and Asteroid Research

Published December 16th, 2009 - 06:20 GMT

NASA and the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia's King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) have signed a joint
statement that allows for collaboration in lunar and asteroid science research. The
partnership recognizes the Saudi Lunar and Near-Earth Object Science Center as an
affiliate partner with the NASA Lunar Science Institute at NASA's Ames Research
Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

 

"This collaboration is within the scope of the Memorandum of Understanding on
Science and Technology signed between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United
States of America last year and later ratified by the Council of Ministers," said
H.H. Dr. Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al-Saud, vice president for Research
Institutes, KACST. "The international interest in lunar science and, more recently,
near Earth objects led to the establishment of the Saudi Lunar and Near Earth Object
Science Center as a focal point for lunar science and NEO studies in the Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, we are looking forward to our expanding collaboration
with NASA for the benefit of both countries."

"NASA's Lunar Science Institute exists to conduct cutting-edge lunar science and
train the next generation of lunar scientists and explorers," said Greg Schmidt,
institute deputy director at Ames. "Our international partnerships are critical for
meeting these objectives, and we are very excited by the important science, training
and education that our new Saudi colleagues bring to the NASA Lunar Science
Institute."

"This is an important advance in our growing program of bilateral science and
technology cooperation," said U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Smith. "It will
help realize President Obama's goal, expressed in his June 4 speech to the Muslim
world, of increasing our cooperation on science and technology, which we believe
closely corresponds to King Abdullah's vision."

The Saudi science center's proposal brings technical and engineering expertise to
advance the broad goals of lunar science at the institute. Specific areas of lunar
study of both scientific and cultural importance include radar and infrared imaging,
laser ranging and imaging, and topographical studies. The center's studies in
near-Earth object science also offer important contributions to an area of
importance to NASA.

"The Saudi Lunar and Near Earth Object Science Center's primary mission is to direct
all lunar and near Earth object related research within the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia," said Dr. Haithem Altwaijry, deputy director of the National Satellite
Technology Program at KACST. "It will reach out to students in addition to
researchers and present fertile ground for scientific research."

"NASA welcomes international cooperation for mutual benefit with organizations large
and small in all regions of the world," said Michael O'Brien, assistant
administrator for external relations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Our
continuing discussions with Saudi Arabian officials may lead to future joint
scientific collaboration in other areas of mutual interest."


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