When disaster strikes, NASA brings the power of space
05 September 2017
It's an unsung NASA program that started quietly nearly a decade ago with the promise to save lives and property worldwide.
What if the terabytes of global environmental data streaming down every day from NASA's fleet of Earth-orbiting satellites for researchers studying the intricacies of our planet could be harnessed to aid the people that are hit by major natural disasters whenever and wherever they occur?
It was an ambitious challenge well suited to NASA's strengths – collecting and distributing complex global data from space-based instruments to scientists around the world – but it also pushed the agency outside its comfort zone to work with an unfamiliar community that needed localized information very quickly in ready-to-use products like maps and alerts. At the same time global networks of relevant observing systems were growing, access and sharing of information has increased, and the capacities of users beyond the scientific community to interpret and use the new data to inform decisions has advanced.
Image credit: NASA - Natural disasters