Ag In Space

Among the 32,000 pounds of cargo in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) space shuttle Endeavour, which launched Nov. 14, there is a camera that will help U.S. growers and provide unique educational opportunities for students.

Students and faculty at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, built the Agricultural Camera, known as AgCam, that will be delivered and installed on the International Space Station. The students will operate the camera from their campus and work closely with NASA engineers and station astronauts.

AgCam will take images in visible and infrared light of growing crops, rangeland, grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions.

"AgCam provides students with the opportunity to do real engineering and provide valuable data to protect our environment now and in the future," says George Seielstad, director of AgCam and the University of North Dakota Center for People and Environment.

Images from the camera will be shared with educators throughout the country for use in their classrooms. AgCam is an example of a space-related research project that delivers direct benefits to the general public. AgCam imagery also may assist in disaster management, such as flood monitoring and wild fire mapping.

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