NASA’s new CubeSat Imaging Radar for Earth Sciences, or CIRES, could potentially save millions of lives in the future by helping experts pinpoint where danger may be. The series of small satellites will examine impacts from volcanic activity, earthquakes and changes in land surfaces, from space and could majorly influence policymakers.
The data made available will help experts during times of crisis by looking at where disaster relief is best designated.
Lauren Wye, the principal investigator who led and recently concluded the instrument’s development at SRI International in Menlo Park, California, said: “The CubeSat Imaging Radar for Earth Sciences, or CIRES, can help decision-makers and emergency managers obtain observations sooner after a hazardous event so that they are better prepared to deal with disaster relief
Analysis could also help locate where and when a volcano might erupt.
Before a volcanic eruption, the ground tends to bulge slightly as magma builds beneath the surface.
Acute observations by CIRES could detect these changes in the ground formation and signal that an eruption is on its way.
Kyle Anderson, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey, said: “Volcanoes will often inflate with magma before they erupt.
“Although it’s difficult to predict how big or how long the eruption will be, we can say, this volcano started inflating and there’s a higher probability of it erupting.”
CIRES is equipped with an S-band Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) which allows it to detect changes in ground formation through even the thickest vegetation – a tool which could be extremely useful.
READ MORE: Yellowstone volcano: Will Idaho earthquake trigger an eruption?