Not being able to see the forest for the trees is not just colloquial for Mihai Nita – it is a professional disadvantage.
“When I go to the forest, I can see only 100 meters around me,” said Dr., a forest engineer at Brasov, University of Transylvania, Romania. Neeta said.
Dr. Nita’s research interest – the history of the jungles of Eastern Europe – depends on a blaster, and may provide more removals from the eye.
“You have to see what happened in the 50s, or even a century ago,” Dr. Nita said. “We needed an eye in the sky.”
To map the history of a landscape, Drs. Forest dwellers like Nita had long relied on maps and traditional tree inventions that could be viewed with impunity. But now he has the vision of a bird that is the product of a 20th-century American spy program: the Corona Project, which launched classified satellites in the 1960s and Soviet military secrets in the ’70s. In the process, these orbiting observers almost gathered 850,000 images Which was classified by the mid-1990s.
Precious or lost habitats have been seconded by modern ecologists to corona images. Coupled with modern computing, space-based snapshots have helped archaeologists recognise Ancient sites, showed how the pits left by American bombs during the Vietnam War became fish ponds and World War II recurred Re-shaping Tree cover of Eastern Europe.
Even though they are stationary, the panoramic photo has clear signs – penguin colonies in Antarctica, termite mounds in Africa and cattle grazing in Central Asia – which reveals the dynamic life of earthly inhabitants. “This is Google Earth in Black and White”, said Catalina Muntenu, a biographer at Humboldt University in Berlin, using corona images that showed the once-dead moss returned to Kazakhstan during decades of destructive farming practices.
More important, with spy satellites, scientists can extend the timeline of a landscape even earlier in the 20th century. This, ironically, helps us to predict what comes next.
“When you double or triple the age of that record,” said Chengquan Huang, a geographer at the University of Maryland, “you can greatly improve your modeling ability in the future.”
For example, in 2019, a group of scientists Used corona Pictures, historical maps, and modern satellites to replicate the fluctuating boundaries of Lake Faiva in Nepal. Then, the researchers speculated about what might happen next, predicting that the shrinking lake could lose 80 percent of its water within the next 110 years. He said a loss of that magnitude would devastate the lake’s ability to supply water for hydroelectric production, irrigation and tourism activities, upon which thousands of Nepalis rely.
“We can use the imagination in the past to inform the future,” said C. Scott Watson, a geologist at the University of Leeds and co-author of the Faeva Lake Study.
Images That Keep Cold War Cold
At the beginning of the Cold War, the United States struggled to gain military intelligence on the Soviet Union – a massive enemy that spanned 11 time zones and one-sixth of the planet’s land surface.
The satellite reconnaissance offered a glimpse into the Soviet black box, said James David, curator of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. “Photo intelligence tells you where the enemy’s military forces are,” he said. “This can go a long way in letting you know what equipment they have and their readiness status.”
An early answer was Corona, which was approved by President Eisenhower in 1958. But in order to photograph the enemy from space, US officials first had to do engineering tricks: developing films that could withstand space radiation and air pressure, and then could be retrieved, developed, and watched carefully. Analyzed.
Started first dozen attempts of Corona satellites FloppedAccording to the CIA, some vehicles did not make it to the classroom or backwards, and others experienced a camera or film.
Then, in August 1960, the first successful Corona flight made eight days over the Soviet Union. When the camera used all 20 pounds of its film, the satellite released its film return capsule from a height of 100 miles. The package hit the atmosphere, deploying a parachute, and Midair was scooped up, by an Air Force aircraft northwest of Hawaii. It became the first photography recovered from the classroom.
“They had no idea that these systems would work,” said Compton Tucker, a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “It is really quite simple.”
For a long time, Corona Camera & Film improve quality. With a collection of nearly one million images, the program explored Soviet missile sites, warships, naval targets and other military targets. “They count every rocket in the Soviet Union,” said Volker Radeloff, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, whose laboratory has used the images in his studies. “These images kept the Cold War cold.”
Returned usable film canisters after 145 missions and 120, The Multi billion dollars The Corona program was disbanded in 1972 in favor of satellites that can bring their imaginations back to Earth in digital format.
When, in 1995, archival images of the espionage program were removed, some appeared on it front page Of the times.
Government officials were motivated to release the images in part, due to their anticipated value for environmental scientists.
“These kinds of photos,” said Gore, then Vice President, “Today’s event is very exciting for those who study the process of change on our Earth.”
Since then, the program has remained relatively unknown to the public. “This is the best military, taxpayer-funded success that nobody knows about,” said archaeologist Jason Urr of Harvard University.
One reason for their relative ambiguity is that scientists who wanted to use images were required to overcome many types of obstacles. For example, while the images are unclassified, it costs researchers $ 30 to digitize a single image. Dr. Radeloff said that there are “gobs and gobs of data”, but that most of the pictures are “still rolled into film and not yet scanned.”
And this is taken until the software is sophisticated enough Correct orientation and analysis Often distorted panoramic satellite images.
In 2015, Dr. Nita began developing a method to process corona images, which, inspired by software, corrected volatile drone footage. “Computer programming was not sophisticated enough at first,” he said.
Along with this and other technological advances, research using corona data has picked up. In the last two years, scientists have studied images to track Rock glacier movements In Central Asia, Shoreline changes in Saudi Arabia, Plaintiff tree In the eastern Egyptian desert and Lack of ice In Peru.
‘Like a time machine’ for the Earth’s surface
Once rotated, Corona’s spy photos can uncover the history of a landscape beyond the contemporary era of extensive satellite imaging.
Often, 60s snapshots of Corona captured humans before dramatically submerged, expansive, habitats before new cities, hydroelectric dams, ranches or industrial areas developed or developed wild places. The images also challenged our assumptions about untouched ecosystems – revealing, more than Once, That old growth forests are actually under 70 years old.
“In a lot of cases, they lead us to gone scenarios, which no longer exist” Dr. Ur said. “Corona is like a time machine for us.”
In 2013, Kevin Lempel, a biologist, determined to return the historical boundaries of the mangroves to the Xinjiang Mangrove National Nature Reserve in the south of China. The records were speckled before the 1980s, when global satellites began regularly documenting the planet’s surface from space. The Royal Botanical Garden of Britain, with Kew, dau. “It was a huge difference – we didn’t really have any other points,” Lempel said.
By examining the black and white corona images and marking the outline of the forest by hand, Drs. Lemonel Performed in 2013 He said that human activity caused the mangrove cover to drop more than a third from 1967 to 2009. Such discovery would have been impossible without historical photographs.
“In ecology, we’re all confronted with the same issue: We start having the best data in the ’80s or’ 90s,” Dr. Lempel said. “The difference between today and then is not very large. But compared to a century ago, the difference is vast. “
Nevertheless, the corona data remains relatively untapped by scientists. Dr. Radeloff said only 5 percent – out of the 1.8 million total – of the country’s growing backlog spy satellite photography, about 90,000 images have been scanned so far. “It has not been used yet. We are on a tail, ”he said.
With climate change and other global ecosystem changes, recording and slicing long-term environmental timelines has never been more important, Drs. Munnetau said: “Everything we do leaves a footprint. This effect can only be seen decades later. “