Former NASA Chief Scientist Dr. James Green visits Qatar University (QU) to attend the launch of the Global Sustainability Space Challenge 2022 on Monday this week, followed by a discussion session led by QU Director of Communications and Public Relations, Dr. Hitmi Al-Hitmi.


During the open session Dr. James Green explained, “Twenty years or so ago, NASA recognized, now that we have lived and worked in space, gone to many of the planets, that there is an opportunity for commercial ventures to get involved and see what can be done in low earth orbit. That is important, because that is the next step of being able to look globally as to what is happening. Things that happen locally are in many ways affected by global phenomena, whether it is our climate or oceans salinity. So we need to be space-aware.”


Talking about the financial aspects of space exploration, Dr. James discusses one of the rovers, called ‘Curiosity’ sent to space in 2011-2012, “Curiosity costs about $2.5 billion, but where did that money go? 99% of that money is here on earth. It invests in the people, it invests in computer technology; it invests in refining instruments that we use in other cases.” Dr. James notes that much of the technology created behind cameras on iPhone, is made possible because of the space program.


Discussing why investing in space is important and how he sees the future, Dr. James says, “Human species cannot survive if we don’t go into space. The problems that we have are global, there are resources that we have that are plentiful at times and if we destroy that, it will doom our life, as we know it. We have to work together to be able to understand how the earth evolves and changes. The only way to do that is from space.”


Dr. James also mentions he believes that the world is being much more space-aware, noting that we use space in our daily lives, such as in the navigation apps in our phones, which are created by signals from space. “There are enormous benefits just in the simple things,” he says.


Noting the changes in temperature caused by global warming, Dr. James notes that humans cannot evolve fast enough to keep pace with the change in temperature and therefore must seek solutions on how we are going to interact with the climate we live in. “The future of space is enormous. We must be working hard to educate all our students about the benefits of space, get them excited about it. Get that knowledge integrated in how they think. We want them to think globally, and act locally.”


This week QU initiated and launched the Global Sustainability Space Challenge 2022, which is open to teams of young people affiliated with schools and universities from all over the world, between the ages 16-26, from diverse disciplines and backgrounds. The aim of the challenge is to find innovative solutions that address one of the pressing challenges that threaten sustainability on our planet.


QU Director of Communications and Public Relations, Dr. Hitmi Al-Hitmi said, “It is a pleasure to be able to have a discussion with Dr. James, which comes on the heels of the launch of the Global Sustainability Space Challenge 2022. As we move towards adopting many important initiatives and steps that support sustainable business practices and promote a culture of sustainability locally and globally, we greatly appreciate hosting talks such as this one, which help inspire and motivate our students.”


Source: Qatar University

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