Stennis and NASA explore more than space

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 20, 2014

Stennis Space Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration do more than explore space.

The chief scientist for NASA, Ellen Stofan, visited Stennis Space Center on Wednesday and part of her discussion and interaction with scientists there touched on how Stennis, as a part of NASA, solves problems affecting us here on Earth.

During the discussion she made note of the work the International Space Station is doing to create vaccines to prevent disease. She and Dr. Duane Armstrong displayed a tool developed by the space agency, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies, to forecast the potential for wildfire by using satellites to track changes in vegetation that could support such an event. Appropriately, the tool is named ForCast.

The agency is tracking climate change and coastal erosion from space to help us here on Earth find solutions to the cause of the problem and mitigate the damage being done.

The agency also has been a much needed partner in tracking hurricanes and other wild weather events and providing the data the National Weather Service needs to put together its wild weather — and regular weather — forecasts. NASA research has helped develop tools to protect firefighters, better and safer food packaging and those GPS systems we use in our cars to help us find our way on the road and on foot when hiking in the wild.

NASA also has helped with the development of much of what we can do with computers today.

The list of products we commonly use and services we commonly access attributable to NASA is lengthy.

And we in Pearl River County have a front row seat to a lot of that work.