Friday, August 28, 2015

NASA, USGS celebrate 25 years of studying earth changes

[ArgusLeader]Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey’s EROS Data Center celebrated a 25-year partnership with NASA on Thursday that has turned space science into insight and answers for drought, earthquakes, wild fires and more.
It was Aug. 28, 1990, that the two federal agencies decided to establish what officially is called the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center at the EROS site northeast of Sioux Falls.
That’s a mouthful for the work being done at the center, where 55 to 60 scientists, engineers and analysts take land data from NASA satellites and ingest it, archive it, process it and distribute it in various products to 130,000 users globally.
As flags for USGS and NASA were ceremoniously raised Thursday — just as they were 25 years ago at the start of this partnership — city, state and federal officials gathered to acknowledge how that work has impacted the understanding of changes on the land and how to potentially avert future disasters.
Michael Connor, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior, touched on those impacts, from satellite imagery that tracks how land surfaces are affected by drought in California, wild fires in the West or rising water levels along the coasts.
“The challenges and the stresses that exist on the earth and its natural resources are simply growing in complexity, compounded by our use of those natural resources and continuing to have the increasing population,” Connor said. “And of course climate change is an overlay that complicates all of these issues.”
Acting USGS Director Suzette Kimball said South Dakota is “certainly an appropriate location” for one of NASA’s 12 Distributed Active Archive Centers and the only one housed in a USGS facility. Data-set products produced at the center not only provide valuable information to the National Earthquake Information Center, but to other government and private sectors as well — everything from managing potential fuels for wild fires to predicting crop yields.
“Having these kinds of data available is not only a benefit to USGS, but to the nation and the communities that live in the realm of risk, areas where there are earthquake and volcano events,” Kimball said. Read More