Nov. 17, 1999 Technologies developed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center to improve use of American farmlands and beat big-city heat will be highlighted at the National Remote Sensing Applications Conference and Workshop, which opens today at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.
Researchers from Marshall and the Global Hydrology and Climate Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be on hand to demonstrate how remote sensing technology developed for the space program is impacting NASA-led crop management studies and investigations of the urban heat island phenomenon.
The technique of remote sensing involves the gathering of information for analysis via planes or orbiting satellites. It measures electromagnetic radiation, including thermal energy reflected or emitted by all natural and synthetic objects.
The three-day remote sensing conference -- co-sponsored by NASA, Auburn University and the Space Grant Consortia of Alabama, Georgia and other states -- runs through Wednesday, Nov. 17. The event is being held at the University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center on the Auburn campus.
Members of the media are invited to cover the conference and speak with NASA researchers about their work. To set up interviews, telephone Steve Roy at the Marshall Center Media Relations Department at (256) 544-0034.
For more information about the conference, call Howard Clonts at (334) 844-4132.
Doug Rickman, lead researcher on the remote sensing program for crop management, will kick off the Nov. 16 session. Rickman is collaborating with university researchers in Alabama and Georgia to apply remote sensing technology developed for the space program to a sophisticated agricultural technique called precision farming.
In precision farming, growers break fields down into regions, or cells, analyzing growth characteristics of each cell and improving crop health and yield by applying precise amounts of seed, fertilizer and pesticides as needed.
The project is sponsored and funded by NASA, the Space Grant Consortia of Alabama and Georgia, and participating universities.
Also on Nov. 16, urban "heat hunters" Dr. Jeff Luvall and Dr. Dale Quattrochi of the Global Hydrology and Climate Center will discuss their use of remote sensing technologies to improve land management -- this time in urban centers, where summer heat often threatens to bake American cities in their own juices.
Often dominated by asphalt and concrete, modern urban areas get much hotter during daylight hours than rural or vegetated areas. That heat is stored and released at night, creating domes of warmer air over cities. The effects of this urban heat island include increased air conditioning use, draining city power supplies, and increased ozone formation -- a major city pollutant and a dramatic health threat to human beings.
The Global Hydrology Center has conducted remote sensing test flights over four major metropolitan cities: Atlanta; Sacramento, Calif.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Salt Lake City, Utah. In each study, NASA’s findings have led the cities to rethink urban planning programs, improving the lifestyles of their residents as well as cutting city budgets.
"We’re seeking to help farmers, urban planners and state and federal agencies improve stewardship of the land," Rickman says. "In the end, that will benefit everyone."
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