NASA satellites take aim at nasty ticks

NASA Terra satellite helps track blood-sucking arachnids

nasa tick
Nasty ticks and NASA aren't two topics you'd generally find associated with each other but university students this spring used the agencies' satellites to help figure out where the blood sucking, disease-causing arachnids would most likely thrive.

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Students from the University of Alabama and Jacksonville State University used NASA's Advanced Space borne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) sensor onboard its Terra spacecraft, along with the Landsat, and DigitalGlobe's Quickbird satellite to analyze soil moisture and vegetation at 12 locations in the Talladega National Forest in Alabama.  

The plan was to create digital maps showing conditions on the ground that could support habitats for deer ticks in particular.   Those ticks are carriers of Lyme disease a pervasive disease that can cause all sorts of problems in humans.  The satellite imagery showed areas of dense vegetation and wet soil -- likely tick habitats.

The student scientists were participating in a NASA's DEVELOP program which promotes scientific fieldwork and lab study.  Results from the tick study will be used to raise awareness of Lyme disease. 

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8   

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