South Korea and the United States vowed further cooperation in space during a recent trip that included visits to NASA facilities.
Republic of Korea (ROK) President Yoon Suk Yeol was treated to a tour of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland with Vice President Kamala Harris on April 25, 2023. While at the site, the duo saw some of NASA's climate research firsthand.
Harris and Yoon delivered joint remarks during their tour, speaking on the global scope of the climate crisis and recent missions launched in the effort to combat it. "To meet this threat, we must partner together to use satellite technology to monitor the impacts of that crisis on Earth," Harris said. "As one example, together our nations have built and placed satellites in orbit that can track air pollution in North America and Asia."
Two of those satellites include the Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) mission launched earlier this month on April 7, and the ROK's Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS), which launched in 2020. Both satellites are designed to measure pollution and air quality across the United States and Northern Hemisphere.
Harris and Yoon's tour was accompanied by NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy and Goddard Center Director Makenzie Lystrup. Joined by Korean Minister of Science Lee Jong-ho and an assembly of Korean-American scientists, the dignitaries sat down for a briefing on the critical role of space in measuring and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Together, Melroy and Lee signed a statement of intent between the two nations to commit additional resources and continued cooperation in the pursuance of climate science research and exploration. "Our growing cooperation is proving that the future of space is collaborative and will strengthen our scientific discovery in space and on Earth for decades to come," Melroy said.
VP Harris and President Yoon were also able to see assembly efforts currently underway for NASA's Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. The Roman Space Telescope is designed hunting exoplanets, similar to NASA's TESS spacecraft. Roman will also study dark matter and dark energy, and bring enhancements to the field of infrared astrophysics. It is currently expected to launch sometime in 2027.
South Korea's first scientific space mission outside of Earth's orbit, the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO), or Danuri, is currently in orbit around the moon. Using its suite of advanced instruments, Danuri has been peering into permanently shadowed regions at the lunar poles to help hunt for water ice that might be used to support future moon missions under the Artemis program.