Measuring Water from the ISS
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Measuring Water from the ISS

January 12, 2004
Looking out the window of the International Space Station, astronauts often take the time to admire and photograph tropical islands and coral reefs. From an altitude of 400 km and with only a digital camera as a tool, it seems impossible to make detailed measurements of the depth of underwater features. However, a new technique developed by NOAA scientists has done just that—plotted the depths of lagoon features at Pearl and Hermes Reef, northwest Hawaii, using digital astronaut photography from the International Space Station (ISS). Measuring water depth is an important step in mapping coral reef environments. NOAA scientists developed an algorithm that could estimate bathymetry from the blue and green bands in IKONOS satellite data.

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