ISERV - a new International Space Station camera - helps Canada in flood aftermath

Published: Jun 28 2013
 Calgary Canada Flood ISERV image
This ISERV image shows floodwaters from the Bow and
Elbow Rivers inundating downtown Calgary.
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When Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield installed a new testbed "disaster cam" in the International Space Station's Destiny module window last January, little did he know the first disaster photographed would be of his homeland. ISERV, the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System, snapped the image to right of downtown Calgary inundated by floodwaters that devastated much of southern Alberta and forced the evacuation of over 100,000 citizens in Calgary and nearby towns.

Three people died in the swirling, murky waters, which also caused millions of dollars' worth of damage June 22 and the days following.

"My heart goes out to my fellow Canadians affected by the disaster," says Hadfield.

ISERV captured some 24 images of the flooding in Calgary on June 22, 23, and 24.  The ISERV team sent the images to Environment Canada's Ken Korporal, who widely distributed them to federal departments including Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and to the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) Emergency Geomatics Service in Natural Resources Canada.

 Calgary Before and After flooding image
This image shows Calgary before and after the devastating floods of
June 22 and following. The venue for the famous annual rodeo and
exhibition known as the Calgary Stampede is annotated in the image.
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"I am proud that we are using the unique view from the space station with ISERV to help make response efforts more effective," says Hadfield. "The space station has a global reach in its ability to help those in need and make lives better here on Earth."

ISERV was developed by NASA to support a joint NASA/USAID project know as SERVIR and potentially the broader NASA Applied Sciences community. The SERVIR project provides satellite data and tools to environmental decision makers in developing countries and operates via regional "hubs" in Nairobi, Kenya; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Panama City, Panama. These SERVIR hubs can task the ISERV system to image scenes of Earth's surface in their countries to address environmental issues and disasters. SERVIR's coordination office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, controls ISERV operations.

"I'm glad that our NASA camera can help the space station lend support to countries around the world, making the ISS even more of an international asset," says SERVIR Project Director Dan Irwin. "ISERV is proving itself as a testbed that will inform the development of future operational systems."

ISERV Principal Investigator Burgess Howell adds, "We're glad to be able to provide images to the Canadian government to help with response to this disaster and with assessing the damage. We're also pleased that ISERV's Pathfinder system, even in its 'shakedown' phase, is fulfilling our expectations of usefulness in the aftermath of disasters."

As Hadfield commented in a tweet (@Cmdr_Hadfield) on June 21, reflecting on the events in his home country, "Floods are an unbridled misery." 

 Colonel Chris Hadfield and ISERV camera
Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield
floats with ISERV on ISS prior to installation.  

While humans struggle to survive and clean up the aftermath of disasters down here on Earth, the space station glides silently overhead and ISERV looks on -- to bring satellite data down to Earth, into the hands of the people who need it.

  ISERV Calgary CATHALAC preliminary analysis
Preliminary Analysis of Calgary Flooding (June 22, 2013) by CATHALAC.  


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