To Protect Earth's Coastal Ecosystems, NASA Creates New Space Sensor

Specifically targeting coastal ecosystems from space, this new space sensor will help monitor Earth's sustainability.
Fabienne Lang

Did you know that coastal ecosystems support humanity in many ways? Say you live in a coastal city or town, and your coastline becomes over-run with algae, or the marine life around your corals and shores dies, tourism, fisheries, and human health would become impacted. 

And this isn't just a concern for those living in coastal spots as it affects everyone globally.


This is why NASA has also decided to take the sustainability matter seriously and launch a space-based instrument under its Earth Venture Instrument (EVI) section. The tool will monitor what's happening on our coasts to help protect them. 

Thanks, NASA!

Unique observations of coasts from space to aid sustainability

The instrument, referred to as Geosynchronous Littoral Imaging and Monitoring Radiometer, or GLIMR in short, is going to be able to provide unique views of ocean biology, chemistry and ecology specifically in the Gulf of Mexico, sections of the Southeastern part of the U.S., and the Amazon river where it enters into the Atlantic Ocean. 

The principal investigator of the project is Joseph Salisbury, from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, U.S.

NASA administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said: "This innovative instrument from the University of New Hampshire, selected by NASA, will provide a powerful new tool for studying important ecosystems." 

Bridenstine continued, "Its findings also will bring economic benefits to fisheries, tourism and recreation in the coastline area."

To Protect Earth's Coastal Ecosystems, NASA Creates New Space Sensor
NASA's Geosynchronous Littoral Imaging and Monitoring Radiometer (GLIMR) instrument will collect high-resolution observations of coastal ecosystems in such areas as the northern Gulf of Mexico, shown in this image with phytoplankton blooms stretching from the Texas and Louisiana coast (left) across the Mississippi River delta (center) toward Florida (far right). Source: NASA


As exciting as this news may be, it won't be happening quite so soon.

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The plan is for GLIMR to be launched in the 2026-2027 timeframe from one of NASA's selected platforms and sent up into a geosynchronous orbit. 

From there, the instrument will be able to monitor a wide area, up to 15 hours each day. 

One of GLIMR's most prized capability is its ability to study coastal phytoplankton blooms or oil spills in such a manner that isn't possible from low-orbiting satellites. 

Furthermore, it'll add to the information already gathering from low-Earth orbit satellites that watch over our oceans. 

"With GLIMR, scientists can better understand coastal regions and develop advanced predictive tools for these economically and ecologically important systems," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate of NASA Headquarters.

EVI has been investigating specific scientific investigations to complement NASA's more important Earth-observing satellite missions. 

NASA has been using its unique vantage points from space to increase our knowledge of our planet, to improve our lives and our futures. 

GLIMR will be adding to the safety of our coastal ecosystems.

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