Sensing Disasters from Space

By | October 23, 2009

Sensing Disasters from Space

New Tel Aviv University technology combines sophisticated sensors in orbit with sensors on the ground and in the air to create a “Hyperspectral Remote Sensor” (HRS). It can give advance warnings about water contamination after a forest fire, alert authorities of a pollution spill long before a red flag is raised on earth, or tell people in China where a monsoon will strike.

Prof. Eyal Ben-Dor of TAU’s Department of Geography describes his team’s HRS technology as a combination of physical, chemical and optical disciplines. “When a devastating forest fire hits the Hollywood Hills, for example, we can see from space how the mineralogy of the soil has changed,” he explains. “Because of these changes, the next rainstorm may wash out all the buildings or leach contaminants into the soil. With our new tool, we can advise on how to contain the pollutants after the fire, and warn if there is a risk for landslides.”

Details on new applications of this technology were presented recently in several leading journals including Soil Science Society of America Journals, Soil Science Journal and the International Journal of Remote Sensing. …

Today, it can take years before authorities can detect chemicals that can compromise our health. For example, about 90% of all gas stations leak contaminants into the soil, says Prof. Ben-Dor. His new HRS can monitor gas stations and identify problematic areas. “Our space sensors combined with ground measurements and GPS data will be able to detect and map hydrocarbon contamination in real time.  Within a year, we’ll be able to identify these problematic areas far more quickly than with traditional methods,” he says.

via American Friends of Tel Aviv University: Sensing Disasters from Space.

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