Latest in Tomorrow

Image credit: PixaBay

ESA plans to measure ocean plastic data from space

Until now scientists have relied on estimates.
278 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

PixaBay

Scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) are working on a technology that would allow them to identify from space just how much plastic there is floating around in oceans. Until now, researchers have used satellite maps to simulate the accumulation of marine trash, but the new project would use direct optical measurements to provide actual data on the scale of the issue.

"We're not talking about actually spotting floating litter items," explains ESA's Paolo Corradi, who is overseeing the project, "but instead to identify a distinct spectral signature of plastic picked up from orbit." The technology would work in the same way as the processing software used in recycling plants, which identifies plastic based on its specific infrared "fingerprints".

At this stage, the teams from France and the UK are assessing how feasible their objective is using current technology from the top of the atmosphere, but Corradi says they may have to operate from the middle of the atmosphere using aircraft or drones, or improve the technology altogether.

He adds that while current simulations estimating the amount of marine plastic "are all well and good", an image based on actual measurements would have greater impact on policymakers. "Monitoring is not a goal in itself, but a means to show the scale of the problem, and start to try and solve it."

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
278 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

The best consoles, games and accessories for students

The best consoles, games and accessories for students

View
A first look at Disney+

A first look at Disney+

View
Disney+ confirms 'Ms. Marvel,' 'She-Hulk' TV shows in the works

Disney+ confirms 'Ms. Marvel,' 'She-Hulk' TV shows in the works

View
US book publishers sue Audible over AI-powered transcription

US book publishers sue Audible over AI-powered transcription

View
Netflix test brings human-curated 'Collections' to streaming

Netflix test brings human-curated 'Collections' to streaming

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr