NASA is utilizing its state-of-the-art satellite infrastructure in order to assist rescue teams with the response to last week’s devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
The US space agency announced on Friday that it is working to share its aerial views and data from space in order to aid relief and recovery workers in the region. The satellite data will also improve the ability of rescue teams to model and predict catastrophic natural disasters in the future.
“NASA’s hearts and minds are with those impacted by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “NASA is our eyes in the sky, and our teams of experts are working hard to provide valuable information from our Earth-observing fleet to first responders on the ground.”
NASA’s efforts amid the earthquake
The magnitude 7.8 and 7.5 earthquakes that struck southern Turkey and western Syria last week left over 37,000 dead and over one million people suddenly homeless.
NASA is tapping into one of its key capabilities in the rescue effort – synthetic aperture radar, or SAR. SAR is used to measure the movement of the ground after such an event and map landscape changes.
By comparing images of the area before and after the earthquake’s impact, NASA data can help relevant organizations map out the full extent of the damage to the region’s topography. NASA also coordinates with teams on the ground to gain relevant insight and improve the agency’s ability to understand natural disasters.
“NASA takes seriously its obligation to support open science, and make information widely accessible,” said Lori Schultz, NASA’s disaster coordinator for this earthquake. “For instance, the World Central Kitchen – which is providing food to those who’ve been displaced – have let us know they make use of it.”
Various NASA satellites are further being employed to spot areas that might be prone to increased landslide risks, show the location of potential power outages and even assess methane emissions from zones impacted by the earthquake.
“Relief efforts include tracking cascading disasters, such as natural hazard-triggered technological disasters,” said Shanna McClain, manager of NASA’s Disaster Program. “Damaged infrastructure and pipeline bursts are something we want to identify quickly to protect the health of people nearby.”