NASA Chief Visits Brazilian Space Center

BRASILIA (Reuters) — NASA Administrator Bill Nelson visited Brazilian space research center INPE last month and proposed extending satellite partnerships with the United States to help monitor and prevent destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

Nelson said NASA will have a satellite in January that can even render images of what is happening below the forest canopy. The satellite, called NISAR, will be launched with India.

“It is going to be able to look through the canopy of the jungle so that we can see if someone has burned the undergrowth and that would ultimately kill the big trees,” he said at a news conference at INPE in Sao Jose dos Campos.

Science Minister Luciana Santos showed Nelson around INPE headquarters and explained Brazil’s space program. The agency has launched a series of satellites in partnership with China since 1999 for agricultural and environmental monitoring. Brazil relies on satellite imagery to watch over the Amazon, but cloud cover is often a hurdle for precise and timely images.