Catch & Release
Saturday open house celebrates 15 years of satellite data
For Immediate Release
As pounding surf and ferocious winds tore apart the Selendang Ayu, an oil tanker that wrecked near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in December 2004, the U.S. Coast Guard turned to the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) for help. ASF immediately utilized satellite data to help the rescue effort and continued monitoring the region to help with the lengthy oil cleanup afterward. Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is the tool that enables ASF to provide information in such emergencies. SAR is a valuable resource since it sees through darkness, clouds and smoke. As in the case of the Selendang Ayu, emergencies requiring SAR data often occur in dark and stormy conditions.
The Alaska Satellite Facility is situated at a high latitude, nearly 65 degrees, and is at an ideal location to receive SAR data from polar-orbiting satellites. ASF receives data from these satellites 20 times per day on average.
Due to recent technological developments, ASF will improve the lives of people in Interior Alaska too. Developments in forest fire monitoring, such as improved mapping of fire scars, soil moisture mapping and calculation of fuel quantities in unburned forests, will greatly help control big summer blazes in Alaska. SAR is useful in such applications because it can see through smoke.