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PAPEETE, French Polynesia (Tahiti Press, Dec. 12) - A scientific delegation to French Polynesia emphasized the importance of Tahiti’s satellite tracking station.

The mission included representatives from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, French Space Administration, CNES, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The station was established in 1998 following the signing of a convention between respective partners of the program.

The convention will end in 2007, but George Balmino, from the French government says the station will undoubtedly exist after the deadline.

"This station marks the continuation of the long cooperation that NASA and the Smithsonian institute have had with CNES which now goes back close to 40 years. It is the continuation of work that has been going on with these organizations for a long time. This cooperation has been very fruitful so far and we look forward to many more years of close cooperation," said Balmino.

NASA’s Engineer, David Carter, said they are happy.

"This station has worked out well and we really are happy by the results. It tracks around fifteen satellites both with laser and radio equipments," said Carter.

He adds that the results are sent to scientific centers in Europe and the United States. These centers then release precise figures about the raise of the sea level in the Pacific area.

"One of the things we need to stress is how important the site in Tahiti is. To do the work we are interested in requires a good geographic distribution of stations around the world. Most of the Southern hemisphere is covered by water. So a site like the station in Tahiti becomes very important when one has to do this kind of work," said Carter.

Michael Pearlman from Harvard-Smithsonian Center says the station does a good deal of the coverage in the South pacific area.

There are 40 satellite tracking stations around the world, but only 6 of them are in the Southern hemisphere. There are two stations each in Australia and South America and one in South Africa.

December 12, 2002

For additional reports from Tahiti Press, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources: Agence Tahitienne de Presse.

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