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CREST Faculty Alex Gilerson participates in NASA Ocean project

Posted on September 24, 2014

CREST Faculty Alex Gilerson participates in NASA Ocean project

CREST Professor Alex Gilerson participated this past Summer in a NASA project to advance space-based capabilities for monitoring microscopic plants (phytoplankton) that form the base of the marine food chain. Phytoplankton’s key functions are to absorb carbon dioxide and deliver oxygen and therefore are crucial for the Earth. Dr. Gilerson’s team cruised for three weeks between the East Coast and Bahamas. During the trip they measured key characteristics of the sky and the water using an array of instruments, including an underwater video camera equipped with polarization vision. The measurements he took from aboard the ship helped NASA scientists analyze and validate measurements taken simultaneously from aircraft flying above. One obstacle in observing marine ecosystems from space is that atmospheric particles interfere with measurements. Analysis of data collected from the ship, aircraft and satellites is expected to guide preparation for a new, advanced ocean satellite mission—Pre-Aerosol, Clouds, and ocean Ecosystem (PACE). PACE will extend observations of ocean ecology and ocean productivity.

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