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Field campaign in California to help scientists protect diverse ecosystems

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SHIFT is an exploratory campaign for the Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) satellite mission project, part of NASA Earth System Observatorya set of future Earth-centric missions aimed at combating climate change and its consequences for health, natural resources, risks and food security.

SHIFT researchers are also collecting and analyzing samples on the ground, in coastal waters and in the nearby ocean to validate that the data from AVIRIS-NG reflects what is seen on the ground. This will help SBG scientists understand the benefits and costs of collecting satellite data as often as once a week and design the algorithms that will translate raw SBG data into information that researchers can use.

“It is exciting to advance our understanding of the methodology and assess the usefulness of data to manage our vulnerable ecosystems,” said David Schimel, JPL Research Scientist and SHIFT Principal Investigator. “SHIFT does both without compromising either.”

“Not just a scientist’s sandbox”

In the long term, SHIFT’s data will lay the groundwork for future investigations. Many of the campaign’s young field researchers will likely move into more senior scientific positions or lead their own studies in the future with data from SBG, which is expected to launch no earlier than 2028.

More immediately, more than 60 researchers from institutions across the country plan to use SHIFT data in their research. A US Geological Survey researcher studies surficial geology and mineral composition. A UCLA scientist is studying the diversity of algae in the waters near Santa Barbara. A plant pathology expert from Cornell University studies diseases in the vineyard.

A common objective of the projects: to transform SHIFT data into scientific knowledge that serves broader objectives.

“SHIFT will significantly advance remote sensing and environmental science, while providing useful information to resource managers, biodiversity stewards and many others,” said Frank Davis, director of the center of research La Kretz from the Sedgwick reserve and a SHIFT co-investigator. “It’s not just a scientist’s sandbox.”

Learn more about the campaign

SHIFT is an airborne and field research effort jointly led by The Nature Conservancy, the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and JPL. Caltech in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.