11:05 AM

USRA Scientists Leading the Next Generation "Earth at Night" Research

Columbia, MD--August 13, 2021. USRA scientists at the Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) continue to lead the efforts in using satellite data for various applications and shaping the agenda for the future.

Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) logo

NASA recently selected three proposals by scientists from Earth from Space Institute (EfSI) of Universities Space Research Association (USRA) in response to the ROSES solicitation. The first one is focused on using satellite observations to monitor electrification across the developing world. The second one will support and further develop future versions of the Black Marble family of data products for study of Earth based on night time observations. And the third is focused on leading and coordinating research activities of NASA Land Discipline science teams for the Terra, Aqua, Soumi-NPP and JPSS Satellites.

The continuation of Black Marble research and analysis will ensure well-calibrated, multi-year, and multi-satellite nighttime lights data and products to address urgent scientific challenges associated with climate, disasters, and energy systems. We are delighted that NASA has chosen USRA scientists to support the agency in developing data products and conduct research needed to respond to these challenges.” noted Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar, USRA Senior Vice President for Science.

Dr. Eleanor Stokes, a senior Scientist at EfSI/USRA will lead the electrification project that will rely on a nighttime satellite dataset called the Black Marble Product Suite, in partnership with scientists from Iowa State University and University of Maryland. “Black Marble is unique in its ability to shed light on human dimensions of planetary change, like increasing electrification”, says Stokes. EfSI will continue to maintain and develop future versions of the Black Marble products supporting research activities by Dr. Zhuosen Wang of the University of Maryland.

Dr. Miguel Román, Founding Director of EfSI, will lead NASA’s Land science discipline coordination project for the Terra, Aqua, Suomi-NPP, and JPSS satellites.  “The work on the Terra, Aqua, Suomi-NPP and JPSS Satellites is a testament to the complex scientific issues that EfSI tackles to help advance NASA's Earth science research while informing decisions for sustainable development,” stated Dr. Román.

USRA/EfSI will be collaborating with the World Resources Institute in promoting and using the resulting datasets about electricity access and reliability for achieving affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all. This effort is vital to producing continuous and high-quality time series nighttime light data records with reduced gaps and uncertainties to better serve the very diverse range of user communities.

The scientific communities that use Black Marble is broad, encompassing researchers studying urbanization, economic development, disasters, astronomy, light pollution, ecosystem health, epidemiology, fires, fisheries, and greenhouse gases. Recognizing the impact and breadth of these efforts, NASA is investing in building and supporting these communities well into the future through EfSI, thus revolutionizing global sustainability science via space technology. “This is in the spirit of U.S. Space Act for serving humanity, a leadership role that NASA and its partners have fulfilled since the dawn of Space Age,” stated Dr. Asrar.