Using satellite data of Puerto Rico showing nighttime lights before Hurricane Maria and after, NASA scientists produced maps that show areas where electric power has been lost or reduced. A portion of San Juan is shown here. Credit: NASA
After Hurricane Maria tore across Puerto Rico, it quickly became clear that the destruction would pose daunting challenges for first responders. Most of the electric power grid and telecommunications network was knocked offline. In circumstances like this, quickly knowing where the power is out—and how long it has been out—allows first responders to better deploy rescue and repair crews and to distribute life-saving supplies.
Teams of scientists at NASA are working long days to make sure that groups like the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) get high-quality satellite maps of power outages in Puerto Rico.
These before-and-after images of Puerto Rico’s nighttime lights are based on data from the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite. The data detect light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared, including reflected moonlight, light from fires and oil wells, lightning, and emissions from cities or other human activity.
The maps were provided to first responders in Puerto Rico by the NASA Disasters Program, part of the Earth Science Division. Dedicated teams of Earth-observation disaster specialists at NASA centers mobilize to assist in preparations for, responses to, and recovery from a wide range of natural and human-made hazards.
Click here for more information on these maps and to use an online tool to compare recent images of Puerto Rico at night with a baseline view acquired before Hurricane Maria. Click here to download high-resolution before-and-after images of the San Juan area.
NASA used satellite data to create this “damage proxy map” of locations in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, area that are likely damaged as a result of Hurricane Maria (red and yellow pixels). Credit: NASA
NASA’s Disasters Program has delivered to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) a map of areas in eastern Puerto Rico that have likely been damaged as the result of the landfall of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20.
The “damage proxy map” was created by the Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and Caltech, The map is derived from synthetic aperture radar images from the Copernicus Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-1B satellites, operated by the European Space Agency. The images were taken before and after the storm’s landfall. The map was delivered to responding agencies, including FEMA, which combined the map with building infrastructure data to estimate a damage density map. This information was sent to FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue teams in the field in Puerto Rico.
The full map covers an area of 105 by 60 miles, with an inset showing the extent of damage in and around the capital city of San Juan. Each pixel in this image measures about 98 feet across. The color variation from yellow to red indicates increasingly more significant ground surface change. This damage proxy map can be used as guidance to identify damaged areas.
The NASA Disasters Program, part of the Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate, works with international, regional, and local disaster management agencies to provide critical information using global environmental data from NASA’s fleet of Earth science satellites and other airborne and space-based assets. Dedicated teams of Earth-observation disaster specialists at NASA centers mobilize to assist in preparations for, responses to, and recovery from a wide range of natural and human-made hazards.
Click here for more information and to download the high-resolution image.