Group of Friends
Group of Friends of the Dark and Quiet Sky for Science and Society
The Group of Friends of the Dark and Quiet Sky for Science and Society (GoF) is an initiative about satellite constellations launched by the UN COPUOS Delegations of Chile and Spain following the wide support to the protection of Dark and Quiet Sky given by many Delegations in the recent meetings of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC) and COPUOS.
The Terms of Reference (see below) of the GoF was approved during a special session of the IAU Symposium 385 Astronomy and Satellite Constellations: Pathways forward which took place in La Palma (Canary Islands) on 2–6 October, 2023.
The GoF can be freely joined and it is open to all the Member States and Permanent Observers from COPUOS that have supported or are interested in exploring support for the initiative of Dark and Quiet Sky for Science and Society. Delegations can appoint their representatives from their government, academy or private sectors.
To date, the Delegations and Permanent Observers that have agreed to be part of the GoF are:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- Committee on Space Research (COSPAR)
- European Southern Observatory (ESO)
- International Academy of Astronautics (IAA)
- International Astronomical Union (IAU)
- Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO)
Several additional Delegations have expressed their intention to join the GoF and are waiting for a formal approval by their National authority.
The GoF representatives will have access to dedicated Google and Slack Workspaces aimed at facilitating the exchange of views and the preparation of relevant documents (e.g. Technical Presentations, Conference Room Papers etc).
For more information about the GoF and for asking to join it, COPUOS Delegates and Permanent Observers can write to firstname.lastname@example.org
TERMS OF REFERENCE GROUP OF FRIENDS FOR DARK AND QUIET SKIES FOR SCIENCE AND SOCIETY
Participation in the Group of Friends for Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society is informal, voluntary, and open to all Member States and Permanent Observers that have supported or are interested in exploring support for the initiative of Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society
The Group of Friends aims to:
- Promote awareness globally, and in consultation with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS), of the impact on astronomy by launched and planned satellite constellations through sharing relevant information.
- Review best practices and mitigation suggestions provided by appropriate stakeholders, including astronomers, space operators, the IAU CPS, and other relevant organizations. Topics should be limited to issues within the remit of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS; the Committee).
- Discuss the overall implications of the adoption of mitigating measures that have been implemented or are being considered.
- Discuss approaches for coordination between the various stakeholders on proposed mitigation measures, with special consideration of the boundaries and interfaces between the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee (STSC) of UNCOPUOS and the International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R). The GoF intends to invite the UNCOPUOS liaison to the ITU-R to participate in such discussions as appropriate.
- Support the development of best practices for mitigating measures and approaches to encourage voluntary adoption of such best practices by Member States and satellite operators.
The Group of Friends (GoF) aims to advocate for the establishment of an agenda item on this topic within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS) Scientific and Technical SubCommittee (STSC). After the DQS agenda item is established, the GoF will continue to play a coordinating and advisory role. The GoF will review its Terms of Reference at that point. The GoF aims as well to work toward the establishment of an expert group under this agenda item. The Expert Group would then carry forward the work of the GoF. The GoF will review its mandate and terms of reference, after the expert group is established.
Encourage regular submission of information to the UNCOPUOS STSC about GoF’s views, inter alia, through the organization of events on the margins of the Committee and its subcommittees. Member States and Permanent Observers may discuss and coordinate conference room papers (CRP), working papers and technical presentations, as appropriate.
Member States and Permanent Observers of COPUOS are encouraged to consider including delegates in COPUOS, scientists, astronomers, representatives of the academic and private sectors for their participation in this GoF. The inclusion of stakeholders from the private sector, especially satellite owner-operators, is essential for fostering broad support for best practices as well as establishing practical and feasible mitigation measures.
The GoF shall have one Chair that will serve two years on a rotational basis. A Chair may serve consecutive terms under exceptional circumstances, though this is not encouraged. The Chair will consult with the GoF to call meetings, determine an agenda, set the date and time of the meetings, and will be responsible for hosting and coordination.
The IAU CPS has offered to serve as the Technical Secretariat of the GoF. The duties of the Technical Secretariat are limited to preparing administrative documents, maintaining the distribution list of members, and preparing other secretarial functions as determined by members.
Participation in this GoF does not imply any financial contribution.
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