Posted by Davina Jackson on 27 Jun 2014

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Seven screens on the media wall of the Spaceship Earth exhibition at Sydney’s Customs House.

Sydney’s Customs House information centre is reigniting the legendary Spaceship Earth concept.

Popularised in the late 1960s by English economic policy strategist Barbara Ward and American ‘comprehensive science’ polymath R. Buckminster Fuller, Spaceship Earth is a term intended to promote early ecological concerns about damage to the planet’s natural systems from post-war mechanisation. Ironically, it also celebrated America’s carbon-belching engineering race to land humans on the Moon.

Now it is obvious that space science and engineering systems, with internet-related infrastructures, are cohesively essential to supporting human living in earthly and extra-terrestial places.

Barbara Ward (Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth), author of the first book titled Spaceship Earth.

Barbara Ward (Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth), author of the first book titled Spaceship Earth.

Almost 60 years after Ward’s initial book appeared in 1966, this new Sydney exhibition, Spaceship Earth: Observing Our Planet from Satellites, presents outstanding images of Earth from international space agencies (NASA and the ESA) and satellite operators (DigitalGlobe).

These have been compiled to promote today’s Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS, aka Digital Earth) vision. Launched in 2005 and recently extended to 2025, it has become the trans-science and intergovernmental context for educating next generations of Minecraft-savvy environmental professionals.

(Virtual ANZ is claimed to be the world’s first officially announced ‘Virtual Nations’ project; a GEOSS subset vision relevant to member states of the United Nations.)

Produced by Customs House and curated by editor Davina Jackson with creative director Joanne Jakovich, the exhibition involves three tiers of Australian government: the City of Sydney (venue owner), the New South Wales Government’s Lands and Property Information group (NSW Globe project), and Geoscience Australia (which handles analysis of satellite data for the Australian government).

Stuart Minchin launched the exhibition.

Stuart Minchin launched the exhibition.

The show was opened on 22 May 2014 by Geoscience Australia division chief Dr Stuart Minchin, Queensland’s CEO of the Spatial Industries Business Association, Richard Simpson, and Customs House manager, Jennifer Kwok.

The Spaceship Earth website is here and press release is here. The displays are free to view daily and most evenings until 20 July 2014 across the ground, first and second floors of Customs House, at 31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay.