NASA and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) have established some Earth and space science working groups, a follow-up to NASA Administrator Mike Griffin’s visit to in September 2006, the first ever by a sitting head of the space agency.

“The areas of discussion centered on complementary measurements and data exchange on missions that are already being pursued in each country in the fields of Earth and space science,” NASA spokesman Michael Braukus said in a telephone interview July 16. “It could be beneficial to NASA to cooperate with CNSA in these areas to share data, reduce mission cost and duplication, and advance scientific knowledge,” he added.

During his 2006 visit to China, Griffin rejected any widespread cooperation in space on major efforts like the space station, but he and his Chinese counterpart, CNSA Director Sun Laiyan, agreed the two agencies should talk at least once a year and to explore establishing working groups in a number of areas, including Earth science, climate research, robotic missions and sharing data from various science missions.

“We believe that might be a productive thing to do, and we are going to explore it,” said at the time.