NASA Coral - Coral Reef Research Foundation
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NASA Coral

From the 1st – 14th May 2017, CRFF hosted a team of 11 scientists from a NASA project, the COral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL). We provided lab space and all three of our vessels for two weeks of this exciting project. This was the CORAL team’s last of three field campaigns, previously working in Hawaii and Guam.  Lead scientist Eric Hochberg from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences explains the objective of the project to “conduct coral reef science at the ecosystem scale to find out the relationship between reef condition and the biogeophysical factors we think impact reefs”. Together with the team of scientists, they successfully characterized 15 sites around Palau that were used to validate and model data from a Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM) instrument installed in a commercial airplane, the Gulfstream-IV. In order to validate the remote observations from the PRISM, there were three teams on each of our vessels: 1) ground truth benthic habitat, 2) reef metabolism and 3) optical properties. These teams were out on water doing their sampling while the Gulfstream IV flew above collecting the remote spectral image data. Although the weather didn’t always behave, as cloud cover and rain stopped the plane from collecting data on some days, there was not much we could do about that and all in-all there were enough good days to call the trip a success!

The image above illustrates the CORAL approach. Mounted in the belly of a Gulfstream IV aircraft operated by Tempus Applied Solutions, PRISM records the spectra of light reflected upward toward the instrument from the ocean below. Its very high spectral resolution is then used to identify reef composition (i.e., coral, algae, and sand) and model primary production.

Visit NASA Coral Project for more information about this project.

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