Copyright 2006 - UNESCO

Space for Heritage

Press & Media 2006 

A World of Science: Saving Lost Civilisations

Click on the image to read "A World of Science"
July - September 2006
UNESCO is currently using space technologies to help save an archaeological treasure, the frozen tombs of Siberia. These tombs offer rare insights into the lost Scythian culture. Preserved in permafrost for 2500 years, the tombs lie scattered across the Altai Mountains straddling China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia. They contain frozen bodies in such a remarkable state of conservation that even the tattoos on their skin are often intact.

A World of Science, follows the project's progress since the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) joined UNESCO and the European Space Agency in their "Open Initiative on the use of space technologies to support the World Heritage Convention" to protect natural and cultural sites using space technologies. NASA is providing the University of Ghent in Belgium with the satellite imagery to produce the first comprehensive map of the tombs and terrain.

The scientists are engaged in a race against time. Climate change is thawing the ground which has protected the tombs for so long. The conservationists from the four countries concerned need to know how fast the Altai's glaciers are retreating to devise an effective strategy for saving the tombs. By monitoring climate change in the Altai, the project will also be providing them with these answers.

Read the full article: Saving Lost Civilisations


27 June 2006
Special documentary on ESA-UNESCO and gorillas and satellites in World Heritage sites.
Once again the ESA-UNESCO Open Initiative on the use of space technologies to support the World Heritage Convention was on the European TV. Thanks to UNESCO, ARTE was able to travel to Uganda to film the real use of satellite images as applied for conservation.

Manufactured by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Envisat satellite was launched in 2002 from the base of Kourou, in French Guyana, and goes round the Earth 14 times a day. Envisat has onboard ten different measuring instruments which allow multiple applications. Envisat concerns all the fields of Earth observation.

The documentary reveals the work of those controlling and managing the satellites, and shows the benefit from using space technologies. Viewers are attending work of various operators and are invited to meet some users of the satellite imagery, from the Baltic to Uganda.

"Envisat and the gorillas"
In Uganda, the high forests shelter the last Mountain Gorillas. To monitor these zones very difficult to access and continuously threatened by wild deforestation, the sites managers use today the technology of Envisat. From the preparation of the satellite maps to the "tracking" of the gorillas in the Bwindi forest, the documentary follows the course of operation.

Read the text about gorilla conservation project


© Euronews
May 2006
EURONEWS special documentary ESA-UNESCO broadcasted to an audience of over 144 million people.
This was the challenge set up by EURONEWS who broadcasted the ESA-UNESCO 'Open Initiative on the use of space technologies to support the World Heritage Convention' during the month of May 2006. EURONEWS decided to use a bug as the main motive to conduct the documentary and show how UNESCO is using space technologies to help protect the Earth's biodiversity. UNESCO received excellent feedback. The UNESCO 'Open Initiative' continues to attract the media and the press.