You are here



The L-band radar aboard the AFRC C-20 jet successfully completed the Santa Barbara Oil Slick experiment (PI: Frank Monaldo) last week.  In coordination with NOAA, JPL, and the US Coast Guard, the experimenters are studying the use of L-band polarimetric SAR data to determine oil thickness, and practicing the workflow for disaster response.   We imaged the natural oil seepage in the Santa Barbara Channel 3 days in a row in coordination with a US Coast Guard ship collecting in-situ data and the L-band radar saw many oil slicks over the ocean surface, as shown in the image below.  

The dark areas in this VV polarization image are oil slicks.


Delta-X officially concluded its fall campaign on Saturday, 25 September! Boston University’s Water Quality team took their last water sample on 24 September while AVIRIS-NG imaged the area for post Hurricane Ida assessment (as part of an R&D task). The JPL and UNC teams retrieved most of the water level gauges within the channels and a few located in the wetlands of the Atchafalaya river. The LSU team will retrieve a few more gauges located at the intensive sites during its regular (every ~6 months) soil accretion surveys that will continue over the next 2 years.


The NASA Earth Venture Suborbital 2 Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) completed the sixth and final Airborne Oceanographic Survey in Greenland on 22 September.   A total of 350 temperature and salinity dropsondes were deployed on the continental shelf around Greenland from the JPL subcontracted DC3 Turbo Prop Aircraft from Kenn Borek Air, LTD of Calgary, Canada.  In addition to the dropsondes, a total of 18 robotic satellite based drifter and floats were deployed from the open door of the aircraft, and provide months to years of data of temperature and salinity.

Map showing all of the locations that dropsondes were deployed in green, and floats
and drifters in purple, and a few yellow locations were floats were planned but not deployed.

The final week of the OMG 2021 campaign was a coordinated outreach effort between NASA, the US State Department and the Greenlandic Government. There was a number of science outreach programs with the OMG team at local Greenland High Schools, including aircraft tours. Additionally, there was a number of VIP flights for the Greenlandic Government and Research community and the US State Department. The outreach effort by the OMG team was well received by the Greenland officials. 


The L-band radar aboard the Armstrong C-20A jet successfully completed the Delta-X fall campaign on 7 September.  In all we conducted 7 flights, imaging Atchafalaya Basin, East and West Terrebonne Basin in high tide and receding tide.  We were co-flying with AirSWOT aboard the Dynamic Aviation B-200 based at Port Arthur, TX.  Data have already been returned to JPL and processing is well underway.

During the Delta-X deployment, we managed to acquire post-Hurricane Ida data over the City of New Orleans on 31 August and the severely affected area just east and south of Terrebonne Basin on several flights.  It was a great opportunity to leverage Delta-X campaign to support disaster response and management.  As it turns out the most useful data we were able to provide for this event were the oil slick images just south of Port Fourchon, where many oil rigs were damaged by the hurricane.   An example of UAVSAR’s oil slick detection is showcased in a JPL Press Release:

In addition, we worked with NOAA Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) to develop a protocol for generating Marine Pollution Surveillance Report (MPSR) for future oil spill response events.  


The Delta-X JPL and UNC ADCP teams returned to the Mississippi Delta on Monday, 20 September to retrieve water level gauges. They plan to stay until Sunday, 26 September. The Boston University Water Quality team has been collecting data over the past week and plans to return on Friday, 24 September. Water Quality team members on an airboat operating a Portable SpectroRadiometer (PSR) that measures above-water surface reflectance, an in-situ field measurement analogous to the imagery that AVIRIS-NG produces.


The QUAKES-I June 2021 imagery is being evaluated with the Linear Bundle Adjustment (LBA) algorithm. This algorithm is a linearized solution for Bundle Adjustment designed for efficient implementation. The steps of the algorithm:

  1. Generate a mosaic image using the QUAKES-I geometry.
  2. Find features in the mosaic and locate the features in subsequent frames.
  3. Perform LBA on the features to construct a pose graph for each mosaic.
  4. Use forward and aft mosaics of the same region to generate terrain (3D terrain map).



Delta-X had 2 AirSWOT and UAVSAR co-flights during the last week over Terrebonne West and Atchafalaya high tides. The fall campaign radar science flights are considered complete as of Monday morning at 12:21 AM CDT, just as tropical storm (may become H-1) Nicholas approaches the coast of Southeast Texas. Ida, and now Nicholas, remind us of the importance of Delta-X science and what can be achieved with the new data. In all, AirSWOT flew 11 science flights (203 science lines) and UAVSAR flew 7 science flights (95 Delta-X lines) during the fall campaign. Attached is a short clip of AirSWOT and UAVSAR flying together.


For the Delta-X campaign, AVIRIS-NG flew on 24 and 25 August over Terrebonne basin and completed all required flight lines. The ground teams also took as much measurements as possible before hurricane Ida made landfall on 29 August. UAVSAR and AirSWOT resumed flights on Wednesday, 1 September over Terrebonne East. AVIRIS-NG will resume flights on  14 September for approximately 10 days in order to provide before and after images from the hurricane damage.


The JPL QUAKES team collected SWIR imagery of the Caldor fire in California in a flight with UAVSAR in the ASFC Gulf Stream.

Panoramic view of a portion of the Caldor flight (roughly 30 seconds).
The SWIR camera is able to view through much of the smoke so that
hot spots can be found (a comparable visible image is entirely obscured by smoke).


The Delta-X fall campaign is well underway. The fall campaign is meant to capture the hydrodynamics and vegetation patterns of the region while the Mississippi River discharge is near its lowest point and when vegetation has reached its peak biomass. Delta-X already captured the highest annual river discharge when herbaceous vegetation is just starting to grow in the Spring. 

AVIRIS-NG flew 4 flights over the last week, starting on August 18th, and completed Atchafalaya vegetation and water quality lines. It also flew Terrebonne vegetation and water quality lines, nearly completing the Terrebonne West vegetation lines. Image below shows quick look image of AVIRIS-NG lines over Wax Lake Delta in the Atchafalaya basin.

AirSWOT also flew 4 flights: over Atchafalaya high & receding tide and Terrebonne East & West high tide to measure water surface elevation.

Together, AirSWOT and AVIRIS-NG flew 3 joint flights. UAVSAR is scheduled to join the campaign on Saturday August 28th flying on the ARFC G-III.

Field teams and have been taking measurements on the ground coincident with the airborne instruments as much as possible. Water Quality (Boston University) team collected water samples as well as reflectance to coincide with AVIRIS-NG overflight. The Islands Team (Caltech and University of Texas) collected depth profiles, sediment profiles, as well as water samples and ADCP transects (i.e. river discharge measurements) to complement data collected by the ADCP (JPL and University of North Carolina) and Water Quality teams.

The Vegetation Team (Florida International University) collected vegetation samples (pictured below), root and soil cores, and characterized subplot representativeness.