Three Conservation Applications of Astronaut Photographs of Earth : Tidal Flat Loss (Japan), Elephant Impacts on Vegetation (Botswana), and Seagrass and Mangrove Monitoring (Australia).
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- NASA photographs taken from low Earth orbit can provide information relevant to conservation biology. This data source is now more accessible due to improvements in digitizing technology, Internet file transfer, and availability of image processing software. We present three examples of conservation-related projects that benefited from using orbital photographs. (1) A time series of photographs from the Space Shuttle showing wetland conversion in Japan was used as a tool for communicating about the impacts of tidal flat loss. Real-time communication with astronauts about a newsworthy event resulted in acquiring current imagery. These images and the availability of other high resolution digital images from NASA provided timely public information on the observed changes. (2) A Space Shuttle photograph of Chobe National Park in Botswana was digitally classified and analyzed to identify the locations of elephant-impacted woodland. Field validation later confirmed that areas identified on the image showed evidence of elephant impacts. (3) A summary map from intensive field surveys of seagrasses in Shoalwater Bay, Australia was used as reference data for a supervised classification of a digitized photograph taken from orbit. The classification was able to distinguish seagrasses, sediments and mangroves with accuracy approximating that in studies using other satellite remote sensing data. Orbital photographs are in the public domain and the database of nearly 400,000 photographs from the late 1960s to the present is available at a single searchable location on the Internet. These photographs can be used by conservation biologists for general information about the landscape and in quantitative applications.
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 20100035206.
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