Seeing the Pandemic at Night: How Satellites Observe More Than Just Weather


As the coronavirus pandemic continues into its fourth month in the United States, Americans have adapted to radically different circumstances.

While many now work from home, others are looking for new jobs. Travel has slowed to a trickle, and social gatherings, from weddings to graduations, have been canceled.

The impact of these changes is noticeable even from space. At the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University, scientists who study the Earth using satellites are seeing drastic decreases in atmospheric pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, around the world. Air quality has been markedly improved, as emissions from vehicles and industry are curbed.

But it’s not just cleaner air that marks these societal shifts. Using a sensor that detects low levels of visible light at night, scientists can even map changes in where people live and where they go.

Continue reading at Colorado State University

Image via Colorado State University