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food | water

Farmers go to space school

Data being collected from instruments attached to the International Space Station is being shared with farmers to help them ‘make better decisions’.

Launched by scientists last year, ECOSTRESS is gathering ‘data on how plants use water across the world’. Providing information on how plants respond to drought and whether ‘vulnerability to drought can be reduced through more monitoring’, the technology is proving a vital tool in generating actionable information for farmers.

“Technically, the instruments are measuring surface temperature, which reflects the heat stress of plants. By measuring the temperature, we are able to tell how much water plants are using. For example, if you have two plants and water one, the one that has more water will be cooler,” said Joshua Fisher of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We are working with water managers and agricultural specialists who want these data so they can get them to the farmers they work with. We have a whole office at NASA that connects societal users with our data so it can be used to help farmers and others make better decisions.”

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