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“We are not alone in this universe”
Charles Frank Bolden, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), gave Ethiopia the first high-resolution topographic data generated from NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) in 2000, which was previously only available for the United States.
I an exclusive interview with Capital, Bolden revealed that this release of topographic data for Africa will help empower Ethiopia to better plan for the impacts of severe environmental changes such as drought, glacial retreat, inland flooding, landslides and coastal storm surges.
“One of our missions here is to deliver a 30 meter pixel high resolution data gathered from a satellite launched back in 2000, which is a digital elevation map data set taken from space, covering the entire continent of Africa.” He further added “nobody has had access to such data at high resolution scale with such high accuracy, so Ethiopia will be the first one”
Lower-resolution SRTM topographic data having 90-meter pixels were released publicly in 2003 for many parts of the world, providing a global standard for many applications. The new data increases the detail of 30-meter pixel spacing, now revealing the full resolution of the world’s landforms as originally measured by SRTM.
“The availability of enhanced global SRTM topographic data will greatly benefit international efforts to better understand natural processes that shape our planet, prepare for and respond to natural hazards, and anticipate and prepare for the impacts of global change,” said NASA’s administrator.
“Food security and programs to build capacity, focuses on the regional climate, should be based on information. The earth is a very complex thing and you have to understand what goes on in the atmosphere and the real concern is to know the environmental dynamics. We need to know about everything so we can predict what will happen,” he further said.
Topographic data benefits a wide variety of activities, from aviation safety to civil engineering projects. Topography also strongly influences many natural processes, such as the distribution of plant communities and the associated animals that depend upon them, weather and rainfall patterns, and the flow and storage of surface water. The data aids in better understanding, predicting and responding to flooding from severe storms and the threats of coastal inundation associated with storm surge, tsunamis and sea-level rise.
Multiple training workshops on SRTM data are planned for users in Africa.
The administrator also said that he is one of those who believe humans are not alone in this galaxy. “I am one of those who believe that the universe is so vast and we know that literally the universe consists of millions of other stars not planets, stars like our sun, so thousands and thousands if not millions of the galaxies like the milky way where we live, every single of those are each universes, and it’s hard for me to conceive, a universe as vast as this, and only the milky way have a form of life, and there are also a lot of reasons for me to believe we are not alone,” he said.
NASA predicts that 100 million worlds in our own Milky Way galaxy may host alien life, and space program scientists estimate that humans will be able to find life within two decades.
During his stay he will meet government and Africa Union officials to discuss applications for NASA’s Earth science research.
Capital will feature the full and exclusive interview with Chales Bolden in next week’s issue.