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China’s Largest Remote Sensing and Digital Earth Research Institute Opens in Beijing
 Date: 2013-05-23  Page Views:

On April 22, 2013, a meeting was held to announce the formal inauguration of the CAS Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI), China’s largest in the field. Its nameplate was jointly unveiled by high officials, including Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) WANG Qinmin, CAS President BAI Chunli, former Chinese S&T Minister XU Guanhua, CAS Vice President YIN Hejun, CAS Member SUN Honglie, and RADI Director-General GUO Huadong.


The nameplate of RADI is jointly unveildby senior officials, including Vice Chairman of the National Committee o the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference WANG Qinmin, CAS President BAI Chunli, former Chinese S&T Minister XU Guanhua, CAS Vice President YIN Hejun, CAS Member SUN HOnglie and RADI Director-General GUO Huadong.


At the meeting, Prof. Guo, a CAS Member, delivered a report on the establishment of the new institute. He pointed out that as a comprehensive research establishment directly under CAS, RADI was established by consolidating two CAS institutes: the Institute of Remote Sensing Applications (IRSA) and the Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth (CEODE). It is aimed at making innovative contributions to satisfy national strategic needs and promote academic progress by: exploring leading technologies in Earth observation, geospatial information science, and the mechanisms for acquiring and distributing remote sensing information; constructing and operating major Earth observation infrastructures and a space-air-ground Earth observation technology system; and enhancing its capacity for providing resource and environmental spatial information at regional and global levels by creating a Digital Earth scientific platform.

Guo said that the founding of RADI is a major strategic move of CAS, conducive to pooling together advantageous resources of CAS in the fields of remote sensing and Digital Earth and creating a complete scientific value chain consisting of basic research into Earth observation, its technological development, and its demonstration and application. At the national level, it will do a better job of providing spatial information to address major national demands, render S&T support to the development of airborne and spaceborne remote sensing technology in this country, and offer basic data services to users in China and beyond. For CAS, it will contribute to space science and technology progress by providing basic scientific data to various institutes in the field of high-technology for their research and development of sensors, and serve scientific research in the field of Earth sciences by offering technologies, methodologies, and data to research institutes focused on resources and environment. The move will further strengthen CAS’ leading role in the field, and lay a solid foundation for improving its international competency and scoring world-class achievements.

Guo stressed that RADI has made remarkable progress in five aspects, namely strategic planning, institutional and system restructuring, human resource development, scientific research and facility advancement, and research campus building. At present, the institute has clarified its strategic positioning, targets for future breakthrough progress, and research directions to be fostered. In terms of human resources, it has a team of nearly 700 researchers and engineers, including more than nearly 100 research professors and the equivalent and more than 170 associate research professors and the equivalent. With one postdoctoral program and six doctoral and master’s programs, it currently has more than 500 graduate students. In terms of human resources, RADI boasts a galaxy of advantageous remote sensing resources in China. Regarding research platforms, it houses nine laboratories or research centers at the national or CAS level, two national key infrastructures for spaceborne and airborne Earth observation, and four institutions or programs supported by the United Nations or UNESCO.

He demonstrated the competence of his institute: the capacity for acquisition and processing of air-space-ground remote sensing data; the capacity for conducting basic research into remote sensing science and geospatial information science; the capacity for analyzing global environment and resource information on the Digital Earth science platform; and capacity for international cooperation with a complete spectrum of academic disciplines. 

In his report, Guo also developed a vision for the future development of the new institute, saying that the job of CAS is to address frontier issues and RADI’s philosophy is to lead scientific development in the field of remote sensing and geospatial information science, to boost RADI’s spatial information capacity for safeguarding the national interest, and to serve global sustainable development, Earth science, and “Future Earth” with remote sensing and Digital Earth.

The ceremony was attended by more than 600 people, including senior officials from government departments, renowned scientists from institutes and universities, and representatives from international organizations. Heavyweight speakers at the meeting included Vice Chairman of the National Committee of CPPCC WANG Qinmin, CAS President BAI Chunli, and former Chinese Minister of Science and Technology XU Guanhua.

In his speech, Mr. Wang said that near real-time, high-quality spatial data products provided by Earth observation-oriented space technology are badly needed for socioeconomic growth, scientific development, and eco-environmental protection.

He raised the hope that RADI would boost the development of a Digital Earth science platform to provide spatial information on the global environment and resources and facilitate the construction of a national infrastructure and technological system for air-space-ground Earth observation.

Prof. Bai spoke positively of the progress made by RADI so far, emphasizing its important role in monitoring and analyzing disaster conditions of Lushan County, hit by a recent earthquake. He said that it is CAS’ mission to build itself into a national research institution with high performance and unique characteristics, and one that lives up to the expectations of the nation and people. The value of RADI in socioeconomic development has increasingly been evident. He put forward three proposals to RADI: make concerted efforts toward breakthrough progress in line with cutting-edge development of science, the national economy, and people's livelihood; actively promote coordinated innovation by running the institute in an open-minded way; and develop the institute through human resource development.

RADI will further strengthen the comprehensive advantages of CAS in the field, hoping the institute would promote S&T reform and embark on a road for successful development.

At the meeting, members of the RADI committees for academic affairs, academic degrees, international experts, technological engineering, and users received their certificates. The First Session of the RADI International Expert Committee also took place. Chaired by XU Guanhua, the committee had two vice chairs, namely Prof. John Townshend from the US and Prof. GUO Huadong. Among its 45 members, 26 are from outside China.

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