November 16, 2008

Endeavour Carries Camera To Help Farmers

Among the 32,000 pounds of cargo in NASA's space shuttle Endeavour, which launched Friday, there is a camera that will help U.S. farmers and provide unique educational opportunities for students.

Students and faculty at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, built the Agricultural Camera, known as AgCam, that will be delivered and installed on the International Space Station. The students will operate the camera from their campus and work closely with NASA engineers and station astronauts.

AgCam will take images in visible and infrared light of growing crops, rangeland, grasslands, forests and wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions.

"AgCam provides students with the opportunity to do real engineering and provide valuable data to protect our environment now and in the future," said George Seielstad, the director of AgCam and the University of North Dakota Center for People and Environment.

The information from AgCam will provide useful data to agricultural producers in North Dakota and neighboring states, benefiting farmers and ranchers and providing ways for them to protect the environment.

Images from the camera also will be shared with educators throughout the country for use in their classrooms. AgCam is an example of a space-related research project that delivers direct benefits to the general public. AgCam imagery also may assist in disaster management, such as flood monitoring and wild fire mapping.


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