STATES CHRONICLE – While all the death and destruction in the world may get some people to believe that the end is nigh, we’re most likely (hopefully) far away from that. But while some would take any excuse to go out and flap their apocalyptic signs around, more reliable sources of information should do their jobs and properly inform them.
Most publications have been posting very click-bait-ish articles, suggesting that the apocalypse is upon us. But the fact is that the plagues aren’t here – Nile is only red from satellite. And from a single, specific satellite, at that – one belonging to the European Space Agency. So let’s talk about why the Nile appears to be blood red in a certain image.
ESA, or the European Space Agency, Europe’s equivalent of NASA just released a satellite picture taken on the first of March and it made headlines everywhere. In the picture, the Nile, as well as several other splotches in the area, appears to have turned bright red. New publications have been making it sound like the plagues are back in Egypt, but in fact it’s just ESA showing off their equipment.
One of the most advanced satellites to date, ESA’s Sentinel-3A used one of its most sophisticated instruments to capture the vegetation in and around the river. The satellite used its Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) to measure and capture the amounts of vegetation in the river.
The Sentinel-3A’s SLSTR is probably the most advanced instrument to date used to monitor and measure the planet’s atmosphere, land, oceans and ice for environmental changes. In layman’s terms, the radiometer measures the energy that radiates from the planet’s surface. And the red that appears in the picture is the heat emanating from the plants, captured in infrared.
Part of the ESA’s Copernicus program, the Sentinel-3A is the third of the over a dozen eyes in the sky that are used in the Agency’s most complex observation system ever created. The satellites greatly improve on the capabilities of the previous Advanced Along-Track Scanning Radiometer, part of Envisat for ten years.
Other very impressive features of the new Sentinel are its ability to detect whether crops are failing, to pick up on forthcoming droughts, to boost short term weather forecasts and track the effects of climate change, and even to provide information on environmental changes in real time by scanning the entire planet in slightly over a day and sending the data back to Earth in just a few hours.