Highlights from the NASA DEVELOP National Program Summer 2019 Term

May 21, 2020

During the summer 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 agriculture, agroforestry, biodiversity, changing ecologies, conservation, energy, fire, health, invasive species, natural disasters, urbanization, and water resources. 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 (LP DAAC), 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, and NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), which flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2000.

Map of jaguar corridor.

A map created by the DEVELOP team showing a proposed corridor location through areas of optimal jaguar habitat.

Image courtesy of the Talamanca-Osa Ecological Forecasting II team.

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

The small country of Costa Rica accounts for 6 percent of the world’s biodiversity. One of the animals found there is the jaguar, an important part of the Costa Rican ecosystem. The jaguars of Costa Rica live in two disconnected southern regions: the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula and the La Amistad International Peace Park in the Talamanca Mountains. According to the Talamanca – Osa Ecological Forecasting II DEVELOP team, urbanization, deforestation, and agriculture expansion has isolated these populations of jaguars and decreased their home ranges by 40 percent. This has led to inbreeding, a decrease in the genetic diversity, and limited food resources. The jaguars frequently leave these protected areas in search of food, putting humans and livestock at risk for interactions with jaguars. The NASA DEVELOP team worked with the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation and Osa Conservation to create models to determine an ideal location for a jaguar corridor using NASA Earth observation data. This corridor will allow jaguars to move freely between the two conservation areas while limiting their exposure to humans and livestock. The DEVELOP team specifically used Terra ASTER Global Digital Elevation Model (ASTGTM) data from the LP DAAC to observe elevation and calculate the slope of the region for the future corridor. In addition, the team used Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) data to assess trends in land use and land cover (LULC) from 1987 to 2019 and to forecast LULC to 2030. They used these data, combined with the Terra ASTER data and vector road and urban center data, to create maps of human-jaguar conflict risk areas. The DEVELOP team’s findings were used to create a suitability assessment for the future implementation of the wildlife corridor and are also being used for monitoring and outreach efforts by their partners.

Watch this video created by the Talamanca - Osa Ecological Forecasting II DEVELOP team to learn more about their project and how they used NASA Earth science remote sensing data.

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 and 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.


Top image: Marco Zanferrari / flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Furey, S., Landry, O., Trust, S., and Fynn, I., 2019, Talamanca - Osa Ecological Forecasting II — Assessing habitat suitability and human-jaguar conflict areas to identify potential jaguar corridors connecting La Amistad and Corcovado National Parks in Costa Rica: NASA DEVELOP National Program web page, accessed May 8, 2020, at https://develop.larc.nasa.gov/2019/summer/TalamancaOsaEcoII.html.

NASA DEVELOP National Program, 2019, Corridor connection—A pathway to jaguar survival: NASA DEVELOP National Program video, 00:04:11, posted September, 27, 2019, accessed May 8, 2020, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfQWEnlb9t8.

Written by: Danielle Golon1, Samuel Furey3, Olivia Landry3, Samantha Trust3, Iris Fynn3, 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, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA.

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

5 SSAI NASA DEVELOP work performed under NASA contract NNL16AA05C.