Monday, July 12, 2004

High High Tech

NASA scientists expect to be able to predict malaria outbreaks from satellite data on rainfall, temperature and vegetation in affected areas. Advance warning would enable governments or the World Health Organization to take steps in advance to prevent and treat malaria in many areas.

Tracking Diseases from Space

Summary - (Mar 15, 2004) More than a million people die from
malaria every year, a disease spread by mosquitoes. Epidemics
happen when environmental conditions, like rainfall, temperature
and vegetation are perfect for the disease carrying insects. By
tracking these changes with satellites, NASA scientists hope to
be able to predict when and where disease outbreaks will happen
to give people some warning. This would help relief agencies
know where conditions are going to be the worst so they can
direct their efforts.

And yet people claim that we shouldn't spend money on the space program when there is so much poverty and need. Of course this is one of the lesser applications of space technology. The greatest contribution of the space program to fighting global poverty has been satellite communications, mainly for satellite TV and telephone calls so far, but soon to be dominated by Internet access. Then the poor can get access to weather satellite data, GPS, and other vital information that the prosperous part of the world relies on routinely.

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