The GREAT BARRIER REEF, transposed to North America’s west coast, would stretch from Baja California to British Columbia. “How do you study that big of an area by doing hour-long hikes?,” says Eric Hochberg, a marine biologist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences.
The new Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM), created at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, is an airborne instrument designed to observe hard-to-see coastal water phenomena. In NASA's upcoming Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) field experiment, PRISM will observe entire reef ecosystems in more of the world's reef area - hundreds of times more -- than has ever been observed before.
Coral reefs have almost always been studied up close, by scientists in the water looking at small portions of larger reefs to gather data and knowledge about the larger ecosystems. But NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is taking a step back and getting a wider view, from about 23,000 feet above.
The award is named in honour of Fred Reiss, a pioneering Ohio engineer who conceived of the idea of “self-insurance,” by which corporations could manage their own risks through a dedicated subsidiary.
The CORAL mission, launching this month, is getting the big picture view of the Pacific’s coral reefs.