Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lyme disease study using satellite images

As reported, six University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) students and two students from other universities are using satellite imagery to identify possible habitats in Alabama for the black-legged tick that carries and transmits Lyme disease.

The students are interns with the NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center DEVELOP Program. DEVELOP is a competitive internship in which students work with NASA and partner-agency scientists to carry out innovative research projects.

The eight students are working in UAB’s Laboratory for Global Health Observation (LGHO) using data from the NASA Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) sensor on board the Terra satellite, as well as DigitalGlobe QuickBird satellite technology.

Along with the satellite remote sensing technology, the students are using GIS software to generate representations of Alabama in colorful, digital maps on their computer screens. The maps’ color patterns detail conditions on the ground such as soil moisture and vegetation that support habitats for black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks.

On Wednesday, July 29, team members will share their study results with local health officials to help raise public awareness of Lyme disease, Renneboog said. On Aug. 4, Renneboog will present the project results to senior executives at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.


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