When you can see beneath the surface, you can sustain the world above. That is why ASTERRA uses the core technology that was used was productized by our founder and Chief Technology Officer, Lauren Guy, to find water on Mars as tools for finding water beneath the surface of the Earth. This past week at the American Water Works Association’s ACE22 conference, ASTERRA showcased their satellite-based leak detection technologies technology and as well as the contributions of the many strategic partners who elevate the technologies around the world. We also had an opportunity to learn from and meet with Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator, NASA Science Directorate.
Dr. Zurbuchen, known on Twitter @Dr ThomasZ, is a Swiss-born leader in the space industry. He grew up on a farm where they sourced their water from a hole on a hill on their property. In his keynote address at ACE22, Dr. Zurbuchen shared the humorous story of how this water source was only a problem after manure was laid to fertilize crops. In his role at NASA, he is always looking to learn more about science, and this drives all his he does at work. He described the planet Earth as our beautiful home, mostly covered with water. From space, his team looks at the Earth’s surface, observing growth, flooding, and other catastrophes. Looking at water, they observe it above and below the surface.
According to NASA, Dr. Zurbuchen is well versed in the practice of asking difficult questions that help us seek corresponding answers leading to real-world impacts. These are the same difficult questions driving research, development, and technical advances at ASTERRA. Dr. Zurbuchen explained that in the 90s, the scientific community began looking for water under the Martian surface. Their direction was “follow the water,” looking on Mars. NASA uses satellites, lasers, and other advanced technologies, including Perseverance and Ingenuity, two of their current mediums. The team at NASA also use punched out segments of cores of soil on earthEarth, observing fossilized remains. They are curious, and they persevere. Both are a necessary part of innovation. The other integral process is iteration. “Innovation and iteration go together,” Dr. Zurbuchen said.
The American Water Works Association launched the Water 2050 campaign at ACE22 with Dr. Zurbuchen. “Water is a complex field,” Dr. Zurbuchen stated, involving many knowns and unknowns. Water 2050 is all about taking the time to consider the water challenges we all face and to evaluate long-range goals, allowing enough time to innovate and iterate on those goals. ASTERRA is excited to contribute to the goals of Water 2050.
Dr. Zurbuchen mentioned wildfires, which are increasing every year. At his home in Utah, wildfires previously burned only in summer, but now burn in other seasons. Wildfires go hand in hand with drought, from which much of the world suffers. It is apparent that a proactive approach to locating and conserving water is critical.
Taking the time to innovate and iterate when working to resolve problems like drought can be the difference between success and failure. ASTERRA leads the Earth observation market by providing space technology to find and locate leaking water, protecting the necessary resources to alleviate drought.
ASTERRA accomplishes this through innovation derived in from space research. As the 2021 winner of the American Water Works Association’s inaugural Innovation Award, their efforts are recognized as cutting edge (under its former name, Utilis). The Japan Water Works Association awarded a similar award to honor ASTERRA’s Earth observation technology (under its former name, Utilis) used to find water leaks in Toyota City, Japan. The consistent work of ASTERRA provides intelligence that can be used to act, prevent drought, protect critical infrastructure, and support a sustainable Earth.
We enjoyed meeting and talking with Dr. Zurbuchen about the many exciting and important uses of satellite technology and the data it provides. We use it to find and prevent water loss and to mitigate damage caused by natural disasters or infrastructure failure to railways, dams, levees, mines, roads, and more.
Our goals are shared. Together we use space to protect our beautiful Earth and the beings who live on it.
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