HOW DOES SENTINEL CRACK THE VOL­CANO CODE?

iD magazine - - Space -

Vol­canic erup­tions, earth­quakes, tsunamis— truly, hu­mankind is con­stantly im­per­iled. When it comes to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, one de­ci­sive fac­tor can mean the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death: time… Vol­ca­noes in par­tic­u­lar have long been con­sid­ered un­pre­dictable and dif­fi­cult to de­code. Thanks to Sentinel images, re­searchers are now bet­ter equipped to mon­i­tor tec­tonic and vol­canic ac­tiv­ity, so they can rapidly de­ter­mine de­tails such as where the lava mass is headed after a vol­canic erup­tion and how nearby set­tle­ments can be pro­tected. These satel­lites can also iden­tify an ob­ject from up to 500 miles away, even if it’s smaller than 3 feet. In the event of a flood or earth­quake, ex­perts can quickly gain an overview of the cri­sis area and di­rect relief staff ac­cord­ingly.

GROUND SCAN­NER In the event of an erup­tion, satel­lite images can make ground de­for­ma­tions vis­i­ble— as shown here at La Cum­bre, a vol­cano on Fer­nan­d­ina Is­land, which is part of the Galá­pa­gos Is­lands. The caldera is out­lined in white, as is the lava flow, w

PRE­CI­SION TO THE CEN­TIME­TER Changes in land mass, newly formed lava fields, and dan­ger­ous shifts on vol­canic slopes are all made vis­i­ble by the satel­lite images.

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