Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New NASA Satellite Takes the Salton Sea's Temperature

23.04.2013
An image from an instrument aboard NASA's Landsat Data Continuity Mission or LDCM satellite may look like a typical black-and-white image of a dramatic landscape, but it tells a story of temperature. The dark waters of the Salton Sea pop in the middle of the Southern California desert. Crops create a checkerboard pattern stretching south to the Mexican border.

If you looked at the Salton Sea in person, your eyes would not see anything presented in the LDCM image. Instead of showing visible light, the image shows the amount of heat -- or thermal energy -- radiating from the landscape and detected by the Thermal Infrared Sensor, or TIRS, instrument on LDCM. Cooler areas are dark, while warm areas are bright.


The Salton Sea in Southern California and nearby irrigated fields stand out in this image taken Mar. 24, 2013, by the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) instrument on the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) satellite. Darker areas of the image are cooler, while lighter areas are warmer.
Credit: USGS/NASA's Earth Observatory


This true-color image of Salton Sea in Southern California, taken Mar. 24, 2013, by LDCM's Operational Land Imager (OLI) instrument, shows the same scene as the TIRS image.
Credit: USGS/NASA's Earth Observatory

The dark squares in the LDCM's image of the Salton Sea are fields where plants can absorb irrigation water before sweating it off through a process called transpiration. Just like when people sweat, plants cool down when they transpire. The combination of transpiration and water evaporating from the ground itself -- called evapotranspiration -- drops the temperature of the irrigated land. Those cool temperatures, indicating healthy, well-watered plants, are picked up by TIRS.

"What you're looking at is infrared light that's generated by the Earth itself," said Dennis Reuter, TIRS instrument scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. TIRS is one of two instruments on the newest spacecraft in the Landsat family, launched Feb. 11 and currently in its on-orbit calibration and checkout phase.

While its partner instrument records reflected sunlight, TIRS complements that view with temperature readings across swaths of Earth's surface. The Goddard-designed detectors in the TIRS instruments can pick up two different bands of thermal infrared energy, which excite electrons and create an electrical signal. With TIRS measuring the strength of those signals, corresponding to temperatures on the ground, scientists can generate images like this one of the Salton Sea.

The view you get from TIRS is similar to what you've seen on television crime shows when cops use thermal imagers to track warm-bodied suspects moving around inside of a building. With Landsat, though, scientists use the thermal bands to track down water. Dark pixels representing cool spots and light pixels of hot spots are key to helping water managers determine where the valuable resource is being used for irrigation, especially in the arid western United States.

"You're using the temperature of a plant as a sort of surrogate measurement for the irrigation going on," Reuter said.

The Landsat program is a joint mission of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. Once LDCM completes its on-board calibration and check-out phase in late May, the satellite will be handed over to the USGS and renamed Landsat 8. Data from TIRS and LDCM's second instrument, the Operational Land Imager, will be processed, archived and distributed from the Earth Resources and Observation Science Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., for free over the Internet.

Kate Ramsayer
NASA's Earth Science News Team

Ellen Gray | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/landsat/news/salton-sea.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Massive impact crater from a kilometer-wide iron meteorite discovered in Greenland
15.11.2018 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen

nachricht The unintended consequences of dams and reservoirs
14.11.2018 | Uppsala University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>