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NASA’s Earth Observatory Monitors Charm City From Outer Space

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—When the International Space Station passed over Baltimore, one of the astronauts snapped a picture of Charm City.

Alex DeMetrick reports that for NASA, it’s a lot more than a souvenir.

Baltimore by night, as seen from space, is now part of NASA’s Earth Observatory website.

“We try to communicate NASA’s Earth science research to the broader public,” said Robert Simmon, NASA Earth Observatory.

The crew aboard the International Space Station took the Baltimore shot.

But it’s the information collected by a fleet of satellites looking down at Earth that’s the backbone.

Data sent as computer code is analyzed for things like rainfall, temperature and wind.

NASA’s Earth Observatory turns those ones and zeros into images, revealing details like Baltimore’s population density and the heat it generates.

The goal is to “understand long term trends on the Earth, as well as monitor shorter term changes like natural disasters,” Simmon said.

Like Hurricane Sandy, caught in moonlight as it slammed into the mid-Atlantic.

And while damage is also part of the observatory’s coverage, it was space-based science that helped predict where Sandy would hit.

“The fact the prediction was done five days ahead of time really meant people had time to evacuate,” Simmon said.

The technology will be looking down as a nor’easter approaches and might again see snow left behind on Maryland.

Although it exists as a website, NASA’s Earth Observatory is put together at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

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