Improving the Planet's Ability to feed all Inhabitants

This entry was originally posted on July 27, 2010 by Astronaut Ron Garan on

Part II of how scientific research being conducted on board the International Space Station can improve life on Earth.

Another great experiment that we will participate in while on board the International Space Station is the ISS Agricultural Camera (ISSAC) experiment.

ISSAC is a multi-spectral camera that will be installed in a special dark “closet” that is attached to the Earth-facing window of the US lab. This “closet” is called the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF).  ISSAC will take frequent images, in visible and infrared light, of vegetated areas on the Earth, principally of growing crops, rangeland, grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States. Images will be delivered within 2 days directly to requesting farmers, ranchers, foresters, natural resource managers and tribal officials to support land management and precision agriculture. The rapid responsiveness of ISSAC imagery may also aid in disaster management applications such as flood monitoring and wildland fire mapping. Images will also be shared with educators for classroom use.
ISSAC was built and will be operated primarily by students and faculty at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND. Farmers will be able to delineate management zones as the crop vegetation changes during the growing season; this can result in more effective use of fertilizer and other chemical inputs and reduce negative environmental effects. This obviously has great potential to be used anywhere in the world that would benefit from improved crop yields.  Great research to help feed the world’s population! For more information see:

JAXA Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki inside the WORF during STS-131

Close up image of the Window Observation Research Facility (WORF) Flight rack at Kennedy Space Center