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NASA-Led Team Deploys Synthetic Aperture Radar to Detect Infrastructure Risks

1 min read

Jeff Brody

A team of scientists led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a satellite data analysis technique for identifying vulnerabilities in infrastructure such as bridges that may lead to catastrophic events. NASA said Tuesday that the group comprised of NASA, the University of Bath in England and the Italian Space Agency used synthetic aperture radar data to measure relative displacement and structural changes in the Morandi Bridge in Italy from 2003 through its collapse in August 2018.

The team detected subtle changes in the bridge in 2015 as well as significant transformations in its structure in the lead-up to its collapse.

“We couldn’t have forecasted this particular collapse because standard assessment techniques available at the time couldn’t detect what we can see now. But going forward, this technique, combined with techniques already in use, has the potential to do a lot of good,” said Pietro Milillo from NASA JPL.

NASA partnered with the Indian Space Research Organization to expand the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar’s coverage by 2022 to include areas that lack systems supporting consistent SAR functionalities.