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NASA DEVELOP & Exelis

Thomas Harris

Exelis is proud to support NASA's DEVELOP intern program. This program pairs student interns with NASA and partner science advisors to work on environmental research projects. Exelis supports this mentor program through access to ENVI and IDL, our software solutions that are the standard platform for working with and gaining insights from geospatial Earth observation data.

Each semester, DEVELOP participants create a 'Virtual Poster' to present their work and a competition is held to determine the winner. The 2013 competition included 21 projects conducted by 96 participants from around the world. The 2013 grand prize was awarded to a team of four interns form DEVELOP’s node at the University of Georgia for “Making the Connection: Reforestation in the Bellbird Corridor of Costa Rica”. The team was able to maximize conservation efforts for the Pájaro Campana Biological Corridor, one of the most biologically diverse hotspots in the world, through the use of Earth-observing satellites like Landsat and RapidEye.

This work is important for its implications for improving biodiversity and habitat conservation in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries, and the Pájaro Campana Biological Corridor (PCBC) stretches from the cloud forests of Monteverde to the mangroves off the Gulf of Nicoya within Costa Rica, providing habitat for 83 mammalian species and nearly 500 bird species. Much of the land within the biological corridor is privately owned and utilized for agricultural activities like ranching. The team at University of Georgia utilized spatial statistics to analyze satellite-derived maps to find areas within the biological corridor that could provide the most return through focused reforestation efforts. Watch a YouTube video explaining the project.

Each member of the winning team will receive a one-year trial version of ENVI and ArcGIS® software, provided by competition co-sponsors Exelis and Esri.

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