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NASA Satellite Network Helps Response Teams Pinpoint Hardest Hit Areas, Assess Future Dangers
NASA's SERVIR continues to carry out the Spanish meaning of its name – that being "to serve." During the past week SERVIR has been actively engaged in serving information to aid one of its neighbors -- Haiti. "Haiti is not one of the countries SERVIR works in directly," said NASA researcher Dan Irwin, project manager for SERVIR at the Marshall Space Flight Center. "However, given the nature of the disaster and the capability of SERVIR, we quickly became engaged in helping out."

SERVIR gathers data from satellites operated by NASA such as Earth Observing-1 and Advanced Spaceborne thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, and agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the private sector. After processing, the information is shared with national authorities as well as regional and international humanitarian assistance groups. This information helps the agencies direct their relief efforts and anticipate further damages due to landslides. Finally, the data are combined with ground-based observations and sent to SERVIR's Web site, which is public and offers the available information to everyone.

Over the past couple of weeks, SERVIR has been focused on Haiti, using NASA and other satellite imagery to develop before and after images of the earthquake ravaged areas.

The SERVIR team is familiar with the island of Haiti because of assistance provided during flooding in 2004 and 2008 from tropical storms. Images were captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer on NASA's Terra satellite. These base images or maps of Haiti were used again to begin providing information to partners in the disaster relief effort.

Products developed to aid partners in the earthquake include a landslide risk map. The mountainous areas around Port Au Prince, Haiti, are prone to landslides post-earthquake due to the upheaval in the rock substrate.

The Haiti maps have been provided to the International Red Cross, the Regional Latin American Humanitarian Information Network of the United Nations Space Based Platform for Information for Disaster Response, the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency, the office of the U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Mission in Haiti, and the U.K.-based nongovernmental organization MapAction among others.

In addition to the United States Agency for International Development, other SERVIR partners include the Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean and the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development in Nairobi, Kenya. "Organizations around the world are working together, sharing data," said Irwin. "We are pleased to be a part here in Huntsville and at Marshall -- making the world a better place and helping out those dealing with pressing issues here on Earth."

For more information on SERVIR visit http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/servir/index.html.

For more information on NASA satellites role in earthquake assistance visit http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/haiti.html.

Janet Anderson
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.