Monitoring Environmental Changes During the Pandemic and Beyond
The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a wave of international collaboration resulting in scientific advancements across various fields. Scientists collaborated globally, utilizing innovative mRNA and vector-based vaccine technologies resulting in the rapid development and deployment of multiple vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 virus. A similar collaboration occurred between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during COVID-19. Scientists and researchers from these three agencies combined their expertise to utilize Earth observation data from the three agencies to examine alterations in the worldwide environment and socio-economic activities that resulted from the global response to COVID-19. Employing advanced satellite instruments designed for Earth observation, instruments installed on the International Space Station, flown on aircraft or gathered by ground instruments, and ground observations, scientists monitored shifts in carbon dioxide levels, water quality, nighttime illumination, agricultural practices, and nitrogen dioxide concentrations. The results of their research were disseminated through the user-friendly ESA-JAXA-NASA Earth Observing Dashboard accessible to the public.
At the 2023 Global Space Conference on Climate Change in Oslo, Norway, the teams behind the development and deployment of the Earth Observing Dashboard, including the IMPACT team led by Dr. Manil Maskey, were honored with a one-time Special Award on Space for Climate Protection by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). The award was received on behalf of the agencies by NASA Chief of Staff Susie Quinn, ESA Director General Joseph Aschbacher, and JAXA Vice-President Koji Terada joined by NASA Earth Science Division Director Karen St. Germain and Simonetta Cheli, Director of Earth Observation Programmes and Head of ESRIN at ESA.
The IAF’s announcement of the award acknowledges the key contribution of the dashboard:
The promotion of data and the broad accessibility to computation capabilities offer a key approach to enhancing and sustaining Earth observation as an indispensable tool for understanding the interactions between the natural phenomena on planet Earth and human activities.
We believe that this effort to make this data easily accessible helps move our societies in the right direction. With transparency and openness, it allows citizens and decision-makers alike, to access the data and inform national policies and international initiatives to address global warming and climate change.
IMPACT joins with the IAF in honoring the teams that built and supported the dashboard. In addition to the ESA and JAXA teams, the science leads at NASA headquarters and Centers, and the Earth Science Distributed Active Archive Centers, contributing to the success of the dashboard were Yvonne Ivey (NASA), Emily Cassidy (NASA Earthdata Web), and IMPACT team members :
- Olaf Veerman (Development Seed)
- Drew Bollinger (Development Seed)
- Ricardo Mestre (Development Seed)
- Iksha Gurung (University of Alabama in Huntsville)
- Muthukumaran Ramasubramanian (University of Alabama in Huntsville)
- Shawn Foley (NASA)
- Leo Thomas (Development Seed)
The dashboard enhances and sustains Earth observation as an indispensable tool in understanding the intricate interactions between natural phenomena and human activities on our planet. Through such collaborative endeavors, we are propelled in the right direction toward addressing the pressing challenges of global warming and climate change.