Highlights from the ISC’s Affiliated Bodies in 2021.


The Committee on Data (CODATA)

In addition to its work on the Decadal Programme: Making Data Work for Cross-Domain Grand Challenges, CODATA’s Executive Director, Simon Hodson, was vice-chair of the Expert Advisory Group that developed and advised on the text for the UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science that was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2021. CODATA also launched the Global Open Science Cloud initiative to encourage cooperation, alignment and interoperability among Open Science infrastructure initiatives around the world, and hosted an entirely virtual SciDataCon, filling the gap created by the postponement of International Data Week/SciDataCon to June 2022. Covering the full range of CODATA and World Data System (WDS) activities and interests, the event attracted over 1,200 online participants. Find out more in the Overview of CODATA Activities and Achievements report, which was presented to the CODATA General Assembly in November 2021, and in Data to Improve our World in 2022

Find out more about CODATA.

World Data System (WDS)

In 2021 the Scientific Committee of the World Data System (WDS) was renewed, with 50% new members. The WDS co-sponsors appointed David Castle as Chair of the Science Committee. Meredith Goins was appointed as new Executive Director of the International Programme Office, which moved from Japan to the United States. The WDS has started multi-year funding from the US Department of Energy, and is now developing a two-year action plan (2022–2024) to align with the ISC. 

Find out more about WDS.

Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP)

The Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics (SCOSTEP) is currently conducting the scientific programme PRESTO (Predictability of Variable Solar-terrestrial Coupling), which runs from 2020 to 2024. PRESTO’s goals are to identify the predictability of the variable solar-terrestrial coupling performance metrics through modelling, measurements and data analysis, and to strengthen communication between scientists and users. In 2021 SCOSTEP/PRESTO activities included four newsletters, five online seminars, support for conferences and funding for the development of solar-terrestrial physics-related databases. SCOSTEP also encourages capacity building activities in solar-terrestrial physics. In 2021 SCOSTEP organized ten capacity building online seminars; supported three international schools held in Russia, Bulgaria and Portugal; and operated the SCOSTEP visiting scholar programme. SCOSTEP also managed the translation of comic books designed to introduce solar-terrestrial physics to children into several languages. 

Find out more about SCOSTEP.

Scientific Committee on Frequency Allocations for Radio Astronomy and Space Science (IUCAF)

A major achievement for IUCAF in 2021 was the 94 GHz European Space Agency (ESA)-IUCAF Coordination Agreement. 

Since 2005, NASA has operated the CloudSat radar in a broad swath of spectrum allocated to radioastronomy. CloudSat’s kW beam saturates any receiver that it passes over, and – in the worst case – could burn out a receiver. Modifications to astronomy operations have been made, but unstable operation of the ageing satellite has resulted in last-moment accommodations by radio astronomy. 

To prevent such situations occurring again when the ESA and the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) launch the EarthCARE mission, which will have an even higher-power radar, IUCAF has participated in the Space Frequency Coordination Group. This effort bore fruit in April 2021 when ESA and IUCAF signed a Memorandum of Understanding whereby EarthCARE will be silenced when it passes over radio astronomy sites. IUCAF extends its thanks to ESA, JAXA and NASA for their cooperation. 

Find out more about IUCAF.

Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)

Amid travel restrictions and the rapidly changing sanitary situation, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) successfully transformed its biennial Scientific Assembly into a hybrid and then fully virtual event. The ‘Sydney Assembly’, which took place in January–February 2021, gathered over 2,000 virtual participants and 3,500 abstracts. COSPAR has made the best of alternative solutions for scientific exchange, and will seek to integrate possibilities for remote participation into its in-person events, which are slowly resuming. A second achievement was the setting up of its new panel on Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), to better connect space and SSH communities and build awareness about current and future challenges. 

Find out more about COSPAR.

Next ➡ Science in Policy and Public Discourse

Image by Bjørn Egil Johansen via Flickr.

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