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Thursday, September 15, 2011     GET REAL

NASA to train Saudi scientists in partnership deal

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia and the United States are cooperating in space research.


Saudi Arabia has been working with the U.S. space agency NASA in lunar and asteroid science research. Officials said a recent accord with the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, or KACST, recognized the Saudi Lunar and Near-Earth Object Science Center as an affiliate partner with the NASA Lunar Science Institute.

"We are looking forward to our expanding collaboration with NASA for the benefit of both countries," KACST vice president Turki Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saud said.

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In 2008, Saudi Arabia and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in science and technology. Under the accord, the two countries would conduct joint projects and Saudi scientists would train in the United States.

"Our continuing discussions with Saudi Arabian officials may lead to future joint scientific collaboration in other areas of mutual interest," NASA assistant administrator Michael O'Brien said.

Officials said the Saudis would work with NASA in such research as radar and infrared imaging, laser ranging and imaging, and topography. They said the Saudi Lunar and Near Earth Object Science Center would direct all lunar and near Earth object-related research in the kingdom.

"It will reach out to students in addition to researchers and present fertile ground for scientific research," KACST deputy director Haithem Altwaijry said.

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