NASA tech impacts disaster planning
- By Bryant Jordan
- Dec 17, 2000
NASA is bringing advanced sensing and surveillance technologies to Project
Impact, a 3-year-old federal program aimed at helping communities prepare
The aim of the project "is to build disaster-resistant communities,"
said Paul Bryant, a scientist at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA does this by providing grants to communities to identify potential
disaster situations and to find ways to ease or avoid them.
Now, NASA will be bringing satellites and phased-array antennas to the
program, providing FEMA and its customers new tools to detect natural hazards
and plan for potential problems, Bryant said.
"We're going to provide [images and maps] so people can see online where
they are and where their houses are relative to the flood plain," Bryant
said, offering an example of one hazard that the new service may help homeowners
prepare for. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires will also
be the target of the NASA/FEMA research.
Ghassem Asrar, associate administrator for NASA's Earth Science Enterprise,
said the partnership between the space agency and FEMA "demonstrates the
diverse and wide-ranging applications of NASA's Earth science research and
technology and its benefits to the American people."
NASA satellites will help map flood plains and earthquake fault lines,
and reveal the types of vegetation growing in forested regions. Firefighters
can use such information to determine which types of plants are more likely
to fuel wildfires and also predict the paths of fires once they break out,
according to FEMA.
Officials will use the phased-array antennas to measure ions along fault
lines. When the ions go from positive to negative — the result of a fault
being "squeezed" — we know an earthquake is coming in a few days, Bryant