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NASA to Conduct Health Checks on Corals of the Great Barrier Reef

Sep 15, 2016 04:21 AM EDT
Scenes Of The Cairns Region
With the alarming news that Australia's Great Barrier Reef is in the brink of death, scientists are formulating live-saving techniques to prevent coral death and the declining population of marine life.
(Photo : Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NASA launched an airborne mission to conduct health checks on the worsening condition of corals reefs on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

The premiere U.S. space agency is committed to understanding the ecological-sensitive coral reefs in Australia especially now that the ecosystem is suffering from the effects of climate change. NASA will conduct a two-month airborne investigation of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest reef ecosystem in the world.

CORAL will take images of the Great Barrier Reef from 8.5 kilometers in the sky, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The NASA Coral Reef Airborne Laboratory (CORAL) will collaborate with its Australian counterparts in conducting the investigation. The objectives were discussed during a recent media briefing at Cairns Airport in North Queensland, Australia.

"CORAL offers the clearest, most extensive picture to date of the condition of a large portion of the world's coral reefs," CORAL Principal Investigator Eric Hochberg of the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) said in a statement. "This new understanding of reef condition and function will allow scientists to better predict the future of this global ecosystem and provide policymakers with better information for decisions regarding resource management,"Hockberg added.

CORAL, tasked to investigate the health conditions of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef, will use combined aerial data of the innovative airborne imaging spectrometer technology by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The airborne investigations will give scientists a new perspective on the conditions of coral reefs across the Pacific Ocean. The data will aid in looking for the relationship between reef condition and both natural and human-produced biological factors that obviously affect the health condition of coral reefs.

The Great Barrier Reef will be the subject of CORAL's survey, but the mission will also look into the reef systems in Hawaii, Mariana Islands and Palau. Main investigation sites will include six large sections of the Great Barrier Reef especially the Capricorn-Bunker Group and Torres Strait. While Lizard Island Research Station will serve as a base for water-based experiments.

The $15 million coral reef airborne mission aims to find answers and provide solutions to the worsening health of corals not just in Australia but all over the world.

Read More:
Great Barrier Reef Nears Its Death, Tourists Rush to Australia
The Great Barrier Reef Has Been Hiding Massive Donut-Shaped Reef For Years
Coral Bleaching Gets Worse, Shows No Signs of Stopping


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