NASA's Airborne Instrument Can Visualize The Hard-To-See Coastal Water Phenomena Including Coral Reef System

First Posted: Jun 03, 2016 05:30 AM EDT

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California created a new Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer, which is also known as PRISM. It is an airborne instrument that can perceive the coasts and coral reef system in the ocean.

Pantazis Mouroulis of JPL, who conceptualized the instrument, said that coastal ocean science has particular requirements that had not been met with another instrument. He further explained at that time, it was even known whether anyone could fabricate an instrument with those characteristics. They had to develop new techniques for building and supporting the instrument, and even new technologies for the components, according to Space Daily. The PRISM will be used in NASA's upcoming Coral Reel Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) field experiment. It will observe the whole reef ecosystem in more of the world's reef area hundreds of times more.

Michelle Gierach, the CORAL project scientist at JPL said that PRISM was particularly designed and will be sued for remote sensing of coastal and inland waters. It will record the spectra of light exposed upward toward the instrument from the ocean below. This allows the researchers to select the unique spectral signatures of living corals and algae. When the corals die, there is an increase of algae on a reef. So, the ratio of coral to algae is a sign of the ecosystem's health, according to NASA.

Gierach further explained that at this time, the estimates of global reef status are created from local surveys with different aims, methods and quality. She added that with CORAL, they can deliver not only the vastest picture to date of the condition of a huge portion of the world's coral reefs, yet a uniform data set too.

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