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KARACHI, Nov 21: Speakers at a seminar on Monday underlined the application of space science and technology in the development of a country’s economy and transformation in the infrastructure of social and educational services.

A couple of them also stressed the need that Pakistan should have its own remote sensing satellite as many of the countries in the world were now relying heavily on space devices in the areas of planning, development and risk management.

The seminar on “Space science and the challenges of 21st century” was organized by the Institute of Space and Planetary Astrophysics (ISPA), University of Karachi, in connection with the Space week celebrations on the campus.

Speaking at the inaugural session as chief guest, Suparco chairman Lt-Gen Raza Hussain said that nowadays the applications of space science and technology were not a luxury but a necessity.

Today, satellite television, satellite telephony, internet, GPRS, satellite imagery, and weather forecasting were becoming increasingly central to daily lives in multiple ways, he added.

Referring to the natural resources and their depletion, use of land, unpredicted and unforeseen disasters and natural hazards, the Suparco chairman said that imaging of earth through space-based platform could give unprecedented advancements, particularly from the management, monitoring and planning point of view.

The overall impact of space developments had also enhanced international cooperation in the fields of space sciences and several cooperative projects were being developed and implemented between and among various nations of the world, he remarked.

KU pro-vice chancellor Dr Akhlaq Ahmad said that progress made in satellite technology and communications had helped countries to make headway in all walks of life.

He said that space sciences could be used for optimized resource utilization for the socio-economic development of a country.

During the technical session, a number of researchers and scientists from the KU and Suparco presented papers. Dr Ayub Khan Yousufzai, Chairman, KU’s applied physics department, discussed the major issues related to the atmospheric science, including the ozone layer depletion.

He also called for developing a Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) in Pakistan which should be able to optimize and integrate atmosphere and other Earth observations, analysis and modelling systems.

Dr Jamil Hasan Kazmi of the KU geography department discussed the evolution of remote sensing technology, remote data collection for earth resource management and said that a broad canvas of application of the technology existed in the fields of Geography, Geology, Meteorology, Astronomy, Ecology and Medicine, which would ultimately bring a new paradigm shift in the scientific inquiry.

Mehrunnisa Siddiqui of Suparco said that the satellite remote sensing (SRS) technology could be effectively used in an integrated manner to study mangrove forest, landforms and other features in the coastal areas of Pakistan for the improved management or development of the coastal zone.

Highlighting some details of the ongoing study to assess and map the coastal resources of Sindh, with special reference to the mangroves forest, she also presented high resolution SPOT XS (20m) data acquired in January 2003 and Landsat TM (20m) data of 1989 and 1998.

Ms Siddiqui observed that the mangroves along the coast of Balochistan were degraded at Kalmat Khor and Jiwani bay but there density and coverage had been improved in Miani Hor area. The uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel purposes and fodders needs and non-availability of fresh water due to low rainfall in the region effected the growth of mangrove forests and they were deteriorating and disappearing, she added.

The chairman of KU mathematics department, Dr Syed Arif Kamal, expressed the view that any satellite launch mission design was not complete unless the trajectory calculation included checks for cross-range and down-range errors.

In his presentation on the dynamics of moon, M Shahid Qureshi of the ISPA described the theoretical and observational aspects of the youngest lunar crescent sighting.

He said that understanding the dynamics of the moon was still a challenging task and emphasized on collecting more data of very thin crescent of the moon in order to improve the existing prediction models.

Dr Ather Ali Khan of the Department of Geology, in his talk on Oceanography and challenges of the new millennium, said that in view of the fact that the oceans covered 70 per cent of the globe, multiple uses of the oceans and increased socio-economic activities near our coasts had signified the oceanographic research for timely solutions of marine problems in the decades to come.

Jawaid Iqbal of the Department of Mathematics said that the goals of exploring space and carrying human operations into the interplanetary environment were not just exciting scientific enterprises; they would play an important role in overcoming the shortage of resources we would be facing in the future.

Summing up the proceedings of the seminar, Shahid Qureshi, who was also the organizing secretary, said that it was high time that Pakistan should have its own Remote Sensing Satellite as major areas of planning; development and risk management were heavily dependent on them.

He also pressed for strengthening expertise in the fields of Mathematics that provided the basic tools of exploring all the sciences.