In April 2018,The Nature Conservancy TNC scientists, working in partnership with Arizona State University’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science /Dr. Greg Asner mapped the coral reefs and other marine habitats throughout the Caribbean basin, including the reefs of the St. Croix East End Marine Park. They collected imagery using a specialized aircraft equipped with a high-fidelity spectrometer that detects hundreds of wavelengths of light to map the reefs in extremely resolution.

The Nature Conservancy

The data collected, along with data collected by drones, divers and even satellites, were processed into detailed maps of important shallow underwater habitats throughout the entire Caribbean.

The Nature Conservancy

The suite of tech onboard the Airborne Observatory, now in its third generation, is unique. Its imaging spectroscopy device, which shows light beyond the visible range, was designed by NASA. Its lidar instrument works like radar but with light instead of radio waves: Twin lasers emit 500,000 pulses of light per second and record the echoes, revealing the location and three-dimensional shape of every object beneath the plane. High-resolution cameras collect data at 4-centimeter resolution. By combining those three methods (with some help from artificial intelligence), Dr. Martin and Dr. Asner made a significant advance in remote mapping.

– The New York Times

New York Times article