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Topic: NASA’s Applied Sciences Program

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory uses new Radar Instrument to montior Levees in California

 

Written by Alan Buis
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – One morning in 2008, research scientist Cathleen Jones of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, was flying over the San Andreas fault near San Francisco, testing a new radar instrument built at JPL.

As the plane banked to make a turn, she looked down to see the Sacramento River delta, a patchwork of low-lying lands crisscrossed by levees.

Jones was using an instrument that can measure tiny movements of the ground on the scale of less than half an inch (less than a centimeter). It’s called the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR).

This 2004 levee break, caused by a burrowing beaver, did $90 million worth of damage. NASA's UAVSAR is monitoring levees for early signs of stress that could lead to failure. (Calif. DWR)

This 2004 levee break, caused by a burrowing beaver, did $90 million worth of damage. NASA’s UAVSAR is monitoring levees for early signs of stress that could lead to failure. (Calif. DWR)

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