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Space Data sharing still a grey area

BENGALURU: Even as several space agencies vouched for the idea of a collaborative effort in research, scientists pointed to grey areas in data sharing. Scientists and officials from space agencies met at the three-day conference on human space flight and exploration, organised by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Astronautical Society of India here on Wednesday.

With research on microgravity being a big deal among space agencies, especially on the impact on human bodies, Indian scientists are developing food as per space requirements and doctors are being trained to ensure that astronauts can stay longer in space. ISRO chairman K Sivan announced that the space agency, in the long term, is looking at how to increase human habitation in space for a prolonged period.

ISRO’s scientists associated with space missions are looking forward to the indigenous manned space mission as it holds great potential of the ability of the principal investigator or the researcher being able to access their data freely and analyse it. Speaking to The New Indian Express, Giovanni Valentini, ISS utilisation manager, ASI, Italy, said that microgravity experiments were being held to check the impact of radiation and gravity on human muscles and tissues. He said that often, in these experiments, it is the principal researcher who has the ownership of data. And science, unlike politics, likes to open itself up for collaborative learning, he added.

Meanwhile, a scientist associated with ISRO, who developed a simulator of a biological function to be tested in space, told TNIE that he did not get the results of the study for which his equipment was used by a major space agency. Data sharing policies vary from country to country, based on their space agencies, and individually, for each project too there is a separate policy — either it’s on an MoU basis where collaborated research takes place with some amount of give-and-take between two countries or at times, a country plays host to another agency’s technology and gets paid for it. In these cases, because monetary reward is given to the country whose capacities are used, the data will not be shared with it. “There is no black and white with data sharing even today,” said another ISRO scientist.