NASA and BIOS scientists scan Great Barrier Reef in coral research project

The Guardian newspaper has recently reported that NASA scientists, along with scientists from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) are engaged in a project to scan large sections of the Great Barrier Reef, as part of a global project to assess the state of the world’s coral reefs.

As the Guardian reports, “Using a Nasa plane decked-out with a cutting-edge image sensor, Eric Hochberg from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and colleagues will examine how much of the area is covered by coral, sand and algae, then repeat the survey at three other locations around the world.

The state-of-the-art image sensor, called the portable remote imaging spectrometer (Prism) was developed by Nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory and is able to capture data across the ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared spectrums, at a level of detail similar to what can be captured from a boat.

From 8.5km above the water, the scientists will be able to see what is happening on reefs at a huge new scale, which would produce a “step change” in how we understand the factors influencing the health of reefs, Hochberg told Guardian Australia.

“Our current surveys, even though we’re doing our very best, it’s easy to miss things,” he said. “You look at a point here and a point there but what’s in between? What we’re after is to get the complete picture.”

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