CORVALLIS, Ore. A prototype scanner aboard the international space station has been taking new images of Earth's coastal regions during the 16 months since it was launched, providing scientists with a new set of imaging tools that will help them monitor events from oil spills to plankton blooms.
The images and other data are now available to scientists from around the world through an online clearinghouse coordinated by Oregon State University.
Additional details of the project will be announced in a forthcoming issue of the American Geophysical Union journal, EOS, and can be found on an OSU website about the project.
The Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean, or HICO, is the first space-borne sensor created specifically for observing the coastal ocean and will allow scientists to better analyze human impacts and climate change effects on the world's coastal regions, according to Curtiss O. Davis, an OSU oceanographer and the project scientist.
"What HICO does that other ocean imaging systems like NASA's MODIS cannot is provide color sensor data down to the human scale," Davis said. "Whereas the normal resolution for an ocean imager is about one kilometer, HICO provides resolution down to 90 meters. And instead of having just nine channels like MODIS, it has 90 channels.
"This allows us to focus the imaging system on a section of the coastline and map the ocean floor in water as deep as 50 to 60 feet," he added. "It gives us the ability to track sediment down the Columbia River, and to distinguish that sediment from phytoplankton blooms in the ocean. It can reveal near-shore eddies, currents, and the influence of coastal streams entering the ocean.
"It is a scientific treasure trove for the coastal oceanographer," he added.
This sophisticated imaging system was developed by the Naval Research Laboratory and installed aboard the space station in 2009. Its development was an experiment t
|Contact: Curt Davis|
Oregon State University