NASA administrators Senator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pamela Melroy recently visited Te Pūnaha Ātea- the Space Institute of the University of Auckland, where they praised New Zealand’s achievements in the space sector and encouraged graduates to take up internship opportunities with NASA. The visit provided an opportunity to discuss the Clear Shores mission, which aims to develop a water quality CubeSat for New Zealand. The Clear Shores team will benefit from lessons learnt by personnel who delivered the NASA-supported SeaHawk-1 CubeSat mission, highlighting the expertise that can be gained through collaborations with NASA.

As one of only five nations in the world with the capability to launch rockets into space, New Zealand has a unique role to play in the “golden age of space exploration,” according to Senator Nelson, whilst Col. Melroy noted that as an astronaut, she had gazed at New Zealand from space and was heartened to visit and admire the colors of the glacial opalescent rivers and lakes up close. Melroy’s reflections on New Zealand’s lakes underscored the importance of the Clear Shores programme, which aims to monitor water quality and provide data to support environmental management to protect the nation’s taonga.

The visit also highlighted the importance of international collaboration in space exploration. As a signatory to the Artemis Accords, New Zealand is committed to ensuring space exploration is carried out in a safe, sustainable, and transparent manner that complies with international law. The involvement of Seahawk-1 personnel in the Clear Shores mission underscores the potential for collaborations between New Zealand and NASA to advance space exploration and tackle global challenges such as environmental management.