Eyes in the Sky

A recent Isthmus article featured UW professor, Tracey Holloway ‘putting NASA satellite data to work’

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio/T. Schindler - See more at: http://isthmus.com/news/news/uw-professor-is-putting-NASA-satellite-data-to-work/#sthash.ZBJNezr2.dpuf
Photo Credit: NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio/T. Schindler

Data from NASA shows that nitrogen dioxide pollution, averaged yearly from 2005 to 2011, has decreased across the United States.

A new generation of satellites is sending back an unheralded amount of data, measuring air pollution, pollen, smoke and much more.

But is anyone paying attention? And is the data even available?

NASA recently tapped Tracey Holloway, a UW-Madison environmental studies professor, to make sense of the data.

With the help of her graduate and undergraduate students, Holloway will lead a multi-institutional effort to help make environmental satellite data more accessible and useful down here at street level.

“I think that a lot of people, when they think of NASA, they think of space,” she notes. “But NASA does a lot related to the Earth.”

Modern satellites can do things like measure industrial chemicals, smoke from forest fires and even pollen.

“The kind of data from those instruments is essential,” says Holloway. “Is the air getting cleaner or is it getting dirtier? Which pollutants are of concern? Are the levels that we’re breathing considered acceptable based on health impacts?”

UW classrooms will benefit, too. “I work actively with both graduate students and undergraduates, and I’ll be pulling them in to be part of the problem solving and the research process and attending some of the meetings,” she says. “It’s a great way for them to get experience working on these cutting-edge problems while they’re at the university.”

This post is an excerpt from an Isthmus news article by  August 25, 2016: “Eyes in the Sky: UW professor is putting NASA Satellite data to work

For more HAQAST Recent News