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Local Scientists Collecting Satellite Images After Typhoon Crisis

November 14, 2013, 6:39 AM by Brittany Larson

Local Scientists Collecting Satellite Images After Typhoon Crisis

Brenda Jones is a scientist at the Earth Resources Observation and Science Center or EROS. She says it's very easy to see the devastation from Typhoon Haiyan.

"It's not often you see whole communities wiped out by a whole typhoon or a hurricane so it's very tragic," Jones said.

The satellite images they collect are from their Landsat7 and Landsat8 satellites and other satellites from around the world.

"Our mission is to contribute to the understanding of a changing earth, and central to that is, understanding the rates and causes consequences of land change, such is what is happening in the Philippines with the Typhoon," EROS Communications Chief Tom Holm said.

Their findings will help those who are responding to the disaster.

"The information is for search and rescue groups, so they know where the most devastation is and they can use it for air fields to determine if airports are still usable. To see what bridges and roads are damaged or usable for transportation, so they know how to get supplies in and out and people in and out," Jones said.

United Nations, Red Cross, Center for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Agriculture and governments in many different countries will benefit from this research. 

First responders can look at buildings to see where they can set up shelter or see what gas stations are still intact. It will also be used to monitor the recovery, so they can see when conditions are improving.

"We coordinate between the agencies that have satellites and can take the pictures and those agencies that need that data to be able to do their job," Jones said.

Landsat Satellite was launched in 1972 and then EROS scientists recently launched Landsat8 in February of this year. Their satellites make a complete orbit around the earth in 90 minutes. 

"It's one of the South Dakota exports that probably is unmatched by anything that South Dakota has in terms of bringing data to the world," Holm said.

Check out the Hazards Data Distribution System images, Unitar images, and images from the International Charter.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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