SPARRSO (Bangladesh Space Research and Remote Sensing Organisation/D4Mohakash Gabeshona O Dur Anudhaban Protishthan') a multisectoral research and development agency of the Government of Bangladesh under the ministry of defence. It is functioning as an autonomous organisation and is engaged in developing peaceful uses of space science and remote sensing technology in the country.

A board of directors directs SPARRSO and the chairman, nominated by the ministry, is the chief executive of the organisation. Application of space technology in Bangladesh began in 1968 through the establishment of an Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) ground station on the premises of the atomic energy centre, Dhaka, for receiving real time weather pictures directly from meteorological satellites. Subsequently, the Space and Atmospheric Research Centre (SARC) was created at the bangladesh atomic energy commission in 1972 and APT ground station was absorbed within SARC. With the advent of the Earth Resource Technology Satellite (ERTS), Bangladesh took up a programme called the ERTS Programme in 1973. Following the renaming of the ERTS as Landsat satellite, the ERTS programme of Bangladesh was also renamed as Bangladesh Landsat Programme (BLP). The SPARRSO was established by an executive order in 1980 by merging SARC and BLP.

SPARRSO functions with these major objectives in view: (i) to apply space and remote sensing technology to survey the natural resources and monitor the environment and natural hazards in the country; (ii) to operate and maintain satellite ground receiving stations including data collection platforms and develop instrumentation facilities and manpower capabilities for both visual and computer analyses of satellite and airborne data for application in various sectors of national economy; (iii) to act as the focal point for space and remote sensing activities in the country and to provide the government with relevant information in formulating national, regional and international policy concerning space science and remote sensing technology and their application in sustainable development; and (iv) to promote regional and international cooperation and collaboration in peaceful uses of space science and technology.

SPARRSO has a total manpower of 190 including scientists and other technical and non-technical personnel. It has technical capabilities, trained manpower and allied facilities for receiving, processing, analysing, archiving and utilising aerial photographs and satellite data. A major facility is the Advanced Meteorological Satellite Ground Station (AMSGS) for receiving real time high and low resolution data/imagery from meteorological satellites like NOAA of USA and GMS (Geostationary Meteorological Satellite) of Japan. These data are being used for day to day weather forecasting and, agro-climatic environmental monitoring, as well as water resource studies. SPARRSO has acquired sophisticated digital image processing systems for analysing both meteorological and resource satellite data. The digital images are processed with ERDAS software. GIS (geographical information systems) facilities include software - Mainframe ARC/INFO, ERIM GIS (Raster), IDRISI (Raster).

SPARRSO maintains a technical library with more than 5,000 books covering different fields. The library also contains journals and periodicals published locally and abroad on different aspects of remote sensing. SPARRSO regularly publishes annual reports, quarterly newsletters and a Bangla periodical Dur Anudhaban Samoyekee. These publications are widely circulated both at home and abroad.

SPARRSO works closely with the UN/ESCAP Regional Remote Sensing Programme (RRSP) and takes an active part in RRSP's activities. The Space Applications Programme for Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific is being strongly supported by SPARRSO. It also actively participates in the activities of AP-MCSTA (Asia-Pacific Multilateral Cooperation in Space Technology and Application) and APRSAF (Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum). It is a founding member of the Asian Association of Remote Sensing. SPARRSO is a member of the International Astronautical Federation. It has established close collaboration with NASA/NOAA of USA, CNES of France and NASDA of Japan in space application activities.

SPARRSO organises training courses from time to time for its own scientists and engineers as well as for personnel from local organisations and foreign countries. During the past it hosted a number of courses, symposia, seminars and workshops in Bangladesh. [Masud Hasan Chowdhury]