NASA contracts focus on Earth

NASA has awarded contracts for investigations into remote sensing technology that support the space agency's mission to understand and protect Earth.

Remote sensing technology, which uses satellites and aircraft to gather data from the terrain below, has an array of uses. NASA scientists, for instance, are developing applications for tracking and predicting the spread of the West Nile virus, which has killed 150 people in the United States this year.

The latest projects focus on areas including coastal regions and the Earth's crust. One study will measure sea ice thickness, snow cover and rainfall to learn more about the planet's fresh water cycle and climate variations. The information could enable better monitoring of volcanoes, earthquakes and hazardous weather.

The goal is to create tools that can be built quickly and efficiently as flight instruments.

NASA received 28 proposals and selected nine. The total funding for those is about $22 million for three years.

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