Researchers are Using Satellites to Observe Our Changing Planet. By using satellites, researchers and scientists are able to observe natural phenomena like never before. This research involves things like observing changes in climate and weather patterns and surveying vegetation growth. These observations are instrumental in developing climate solutions.
Space exploration and the presence of satellites in space are vital to our understanding of planet Earth’s weather and climate systems. Satellite technology helps researchers to collate data with existing bodies of knowledge, helping us to develop productive solutions to global problems. Using satellite imaging and data collection, scientists are able to observe changes in the planet’s vital ecosystems.
As the planet warms, researchers predict an increase in extreme weather events and natural disasters, such as floods and fires. Different kinds of satellites can help us identify when these events may strike and identify high-risk areas. Satellites are also vital for many technological systems we rely on, such as GPS or weather prediction technology. We list some of the many ways that using satellites helps us explore the planet’s surface and better understand our own place on Earth.
Why Is Using Satellites Helpful?
Observing changes to the Earth’s surface or to natural ecosystems takes a long time. Minute pieces of data must be collected over years and years to gather a complete picture of any change. To do this on a large scale, we would also need thousands of researchers.
There are things we can do with satellites that simply cannot be done by humans. Using satellites allows us to collect data on a massive scale, and the images we get from space can reveal things we could never see on Earth. Satellite images can show us changes in land formation, vegetation growth, and soil make-up in a totally unique way.
Different Types and Uses of Satellites
There are a huge number of active satellites in space. Many of these satellites are designed to chart natural phenomena on Earth and communicate with space centers. There are many different kinds of satellites that carry out a wide variety of observational functions. Some of these include:
- Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity
One of ESA’s satellite missions involves monitoring moisture in the soil and the level of salt in our oceans. This allows researchers to understand changes in the Earth’s surface. It can also identify changes in the ocean’s chemical make-up, which can impact the breeding patterns and life cycles of marine creatures.
- Measuring Ice Loss
One of the most evident impacts of global warming is the massive ice loss in the Arctic and polar areas. However, these losses would be almost impossible to observe or measure from Earth. Satellite applications, such as images from space can help scientists see and record ice shrinkage in depth.
One of the most significant ice monitoring satellite projects is run by ESA’s CryoSat. This satellite uses a combination of measurements from the Earth’s surface and the air around Earth to collect information. This allows researchers to see where Arctic Sea ice is shrinking.
- Ocean Movement
One of the most useful but also unusual uses of satellites involves the study of ocean movement and water cycles. NASA’s Aqua Mission uses satellites to track patterns in water movement across different oceans. By studying patterns in water flow and wave motions, scientists can predict where ocean storms may occur and when and where the ripple effects will strike land. This can help predict floods and tsunamis and help protect communities in areas under threat by locating coastal regions that need additional flood reinforcements in place.
- Fauna Temperature Checks
One of the satellite services onboard the International Space station has very useful applications on Earth and in the realm of climate science. The ECOSTRESS satellite records the temperatures at which various plants thrive and calculates their water needs based on this. This information is crucial in predicting the impact of droughts and temperature rises.
As plants produce oxygen and absorb Co2, we rely on their survival for our own. Therefore, fluctuations in temperature above certain ranges must be avoided. Satellite technology helps us to understand and to monitor this.
- Crop Growth
Some satellites help us to monitor crop growth and identify areas that may be at risk of famine. This allows us to protect indigenous communities from crop failure by putting supportive measures in place. The Copernicus-2 satellite currently provides imaging for this project.
- Photosynthetic Observation
There are still many undiscovered and unknown uses of satellites. Scientists are developing new ways to use satellites all the time, and future satellite missions will build upon existing areas of research. One planned mission is the FLEX satellite operation. This mission aims to chart the photosynthetic activity of plants as they absorb sunlight. This will give us valuable insights into the quality of Earth’s forests and allow us to analyze the performance of new growth.
These facts about satellites are just a few of the ways that space exploration benefits climate research. Satellites give us a picture of our changing planet that we could never achieve on our own. As time goes on, there is no doubt that satellite use will only increase.
Final Call: Are you interested in climate research? What about space technology? Share your science interests in the comments!