Highlights from the NASA DEVELOP National Program Fall 2019 Term

Jul 01, 2020
Image with shades of purple and blue over the author's study area.

Change between daytime and nighttime land surface temperature based on ECOSTRESS Land Surface Temperature data from August 30 to September 1, 2019. According to the DEVELOP Team, areas with shades of light purple indicate high temperature increases and areas of light blue show negative or low increases in temperature.

Image courtesy of the Tennessee Valley Energy Team.

During the fall 2019 term of NASA’s DEVELOP National Program, participants used geospatial data and technologies to investigate, analyze, and monitor several issues around the world. Some of the topics explored throughout the term included agroforestry, air quality, coastline management, conservation, drought, energy, flooding, health, invasive species, land cover change, urbanization, water resources and quality, and wildfires. Each project completed by a DEVELOP team is conducted in partnership with agencies or organizations local to the study area. Fundamental to the analytical and geospatial component of each of these projects is NASA Earth science remote sensing data. Several of these projects used data distributed by the Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center, including data collected by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) sensor aboard NASA’s Terra satellite, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor aboard the joint NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite, NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), which flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000, and NASA’s ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer (ECOSTRESS) sensor aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

All projects conducted in the fall term, as well as in past terms, can be found in the DEVELOP archive.

The temperature of water in aquatic ecosystems can drastically impact the biodiversity that lives in the area. Local species have evolved to live in equilibrium with their environment. As water temperatures increase beyond normal, local species can die off and make space for foreign heat-tolerant species to thrive. One way water temperature can increase in local aquatic ecosystems is through liquid waste, or effluent, from nuclear power plants near the water. In Tennessee, the Tennessee River is used to cool down the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant (BFNP). Water is pumped in to cool down the reactors and then discharged at a higher temperature, which in turn increases the temperature of the water around the discharge point. In this project the Tennessee Valley Energy DEVELOP team used remote sensing data, including Thermal Infrared data from Terra ASTER (AST_08) and ISS ECOSTRESS (ECO2LSTE), downloaded using the Application for Extracting and Exploring Analysis Ready Data (AppEEARS), and Landsat 8’s Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) to examine water temperature along the Tennessee River. The team was specifically looking for spatial and temporal variations in the water’s surface temperature. The method used in this study can help improve river temperature predictive models that are currently being used by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s BFNP. Read the team’s poster below for more information on their methodology and what they learned from their project.

Informational poster

The DEVELOP Project Poster from the Fall 2019 Tennessee Valley Energy Team.

About the NASA DEVELOP National Program

The DEVELOP National Program is part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program. Participants from around the country join the DEVELOP program for 10-week terms to apply data acquired by NASA Earth-observing satellites to bridge the gap between science and society. DEVELOP participants work with non-profit, local, state, and federal partners to create maps and other products in eight focus areas, including Food Security & Agriculture, Disasters, Ecological Forecasting, Energy, Health & Air Quality, Urban Development, Water Resources, and Transportation & Infrastructure.

Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


Dong, L., Ding, J., Smith, R., and Tatum, S., 2019, Tennessee Valley Energy —assessing the hydrothermal outputs of nuclear power plants along the Tennessee River with NASA Earth Observations: NASA DEVELOP National Program web page, accessed June 11, 2020, at https://develop.larc.nasa.gov/2019/fall/TennesseeValleyEnergy.html.

Written by: Danielle Golon1, Lisa Dong3, Jessica Ding3, Rachel Smith3, Samuel Tatum3, Amanda Clayton4

1 Innovate!, Inc., contractor to the U.S. Geological Survey, Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA. Work performed under USGS contract G15PC00012 for LP DAAC2.

2 LP DAAC work performed under NASA contract NNG14HH33I.

3 SSAI, NASA DEVELOP National Program5, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, USA.

4 SSAI, NASA DEVELOP National Program5, Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, USA.

5 SSAI NASA DEVELOP work performed under NASA contract NNL16AA05C