NASA and National Park Service to Share Satellite Data
NASA and the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service (NPS) recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for collaboration on mutually beneficial Earth science programs for the preservation, enhancement and interpretation of U.S. natural resources. The new partnership also advances NASA's mission to understand and protect our home planet and inspire the next generation of explorers.
Image to right: Acadia National Park Spruce Forest: This is a photo of a spruce forest in Acadia National Park, Maine. Park managers hope to use NASA satellite data to help manage the forest resources of the park. Located on the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia National Park encompasses over 47,000 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and ponds, and ocean shoreline. Such diverse habitats create striking scenery and make the park a haven for wildlife and plants. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NPS
The MOA is a comprehensive, five-year agreement that will, foster a collaborative effort between NASA and NPS to use Earth science research results and extend the benefits of NASA exploration and science for the preservation, enhancement and interpretation of the natural resources of the United States.
"I am confident that this agreement will provide the framework for a positive cooperative relationship for years to come as well as advance NASA's goal of improving our understanding of Earth's system," said Woody Turner, Program Scientist at NASA Headquarters.
Image to left: The Landsat Satellite Sees Acadia National Park: This Landsat ETM+ Satellite image of Acadia National Park was produced on Sept. 2, 2002 by a project funded by the National Park Service’s Northeast Temperate Network Inventory and Monitoring program. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: NASA GSFC & Y.Q. Wang at the Laboratory for Terrestrial Remote Sensing, Univ. Rhode Island
NPS and NASA data managers have agreed to share information and collaborate on training, technical support, information and education. Both agencies bring unique science content, observations, and educational tools that benefit each other's goals. Whereas NASA has the unique vantage provided by space-based platforms, NPS has extensive ground-based data about natural and cultural resources. The MOA allows NPS and NASA personnel to explore the breadth of opportunities for utilizing Earth observations systems, including spacecraft data and models, in managing park resources and educating park visitors.
Both NPS and NASA share the commonality of educating and inspiring the public through exploration of natural environments. NASA science programs offer substantial benefits to NPS interpretation that inform and inspire park visitors about our place in the natural world and the universe. The two agencies have already begun to foster closer connections in education. For example, in October 2004, NPS collaborated with NASA to offer an "explorer institute" aimed at enabling Park Rangers to incorporate NASA science content into public programs or written material for use in National Parks.
Image to right: Snow in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks: On Oct. 6, 2003, NASA's Terra satellite MODIS instrument captured this blanket of snow over Montana, top right, and Wyoming, bottom right, and the mountains of Idaho, left. Snow, and the water it supplies, is important in these western states, and it's helpful to water managers to see where the snow falls. The dark wrinkle of mountains in Wyoming’s upper left corner are part of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The red dot on the left edge of the mountains in central Idaho marks the location of a fire. The dark up-side-down “v”-shaped lake in the upper right corner of the image is Fort Peck Lake, on the Upper Missouri River. The Lake is the fifth largest man-made reservoir in the U.S. It is 134 miles long and up to 220 feet deep. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
Currently, one program is using Landsat data combined with ground measurements to better understand the effects of land use patterns on large migratory wildlife in and around Yellowstone, and changes in glaciers at Glacier National Park, Alaska. The NPS Inventory and Monitoring Division is also beginning to use Landsat for vegetation mapping, in an ongoing program.
In Acadia and Shenandoah National Parks, park interpreters and education specialists are working with Landsat EPO to develop a web-based interpretive exhibit that will use Landsat and possibly other NASA data to convey concepts of historical and present day use patterns on the landscapes in and around the parks.
Image to left: Undine Falls, Yellowstone National Park: Lava Creek here spills over the cliff face of a basalt lava flow that was emplaced about 700,000 years ago. Named after this falls, the Undine Falls Basalt erupted before Yellowstone's third explosive caldera-forming eruption that ejected the Lava Creek Tuff about 640,000 years ago. Scientists first distinguished the Lava Creek Tuff from the 2.1-million-year-old Huckleberry Ridge Tuff in the 1960s on nearby Mount Everts--the first clue that Yellowstone's history included more than one caldera-forming eruption. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: USGS
The mission of the NPS is to preserve and interpret natural and cultural resources on the federal lands it manages for this and future generations. To achieve this mission, NPS decision makers are asking for more remotely sensed observations, which NASA can and is providing. NASA scientists also benefit from the NPS measurements gathered on the ground, as it helps them check the accuracy of spacecraft research results.
The agreement stipulates that NASA will provide space-based observations, and the NPS will review innovative Earth system science results, scientific, educational and interpretation materials, information services, and related products. Some specific opportunities that will result from this MOA include coordinating teams on the ground to survey parks and compare the measurements to observations from NASA spacecraft instruments, compiling science image-products of parks, developing databases of key parameters of ecosystem indicators, and evaluating the use of research-quality results to make decisions on managing the parks' resources.
Image to right: Fires and Smoke In California and Oregon: Land managers can use satellite images to help fight fires in and out of National Parks and forests. NASA's Terra satellite captured a large fire that sprang up in the Sequoia National Forest about 12 miles north of the town of Kernville. The USDA Forest Service said the McNalley fire started on the afternoon of July 21, 2002, and by July 22, had rapidly spread to more than 9,000 acres. To the north, the Biscuit Fire in southwest Oregon was a combination of the Florence Fire and Sour Biscuit Fires, which merged to create a single massive blaze that ultimately burned almost half a million acres. The fire burned over the state line into California, and ultimately consumed almost half a million acres. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
This collaboration provides opportunities at NPS Research Learning Centers, conferences, and training workshops for NASA experts to present papers, and to conduct hands-on and specialized tutorials. Universities will also benefit, as joint projects are coordinated and promoted with them through the NPS regional Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technical support centers.
Image to left: Close Up of the 2002 McNalley Fire: This is a photograph of the McNalley Fire in the Sequoia National Forest taken by the USDA Forest Service Region 5 Office, in July 2002. Click on image to enlarge. Credit: USFS, Denise Buske and Gloria Smith.
Public Affairs Contacts:
Gretchen Cook-Anderson/ Dolores Beasley
National Park Service, Headquarters, Washington
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For more information about the National Park Service, please visit on the Internet:
Goddard Space Flight Center