Satellite image showing the change in plant cover, as measured by the Enhanced Vegetation Index, in the U.S. Southwest between June 2003 and June 2004 (Image: Philip Dennison, University of Utah)
Satellite image using what is known as the Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) to show plant cover in June 2004 in the U.S (Image: Philip Dennison, University of Utah)
Directly tracking disease-carrying mice from space would seem to be a tall order – and even without knowing the full capabilities of military satellites, I suspect the ability to do so is still a couple of years off yet. But researchers at the University of Utah have come up with an indirect way of tracking rodents by using satellite images to monitor surges in vegetation that boost mouse populations. Such a method could help forecast outbreaks of rodent-borne illnesses worldwide by allowing the creation of risk maps that show when and where outbreaks are likely to occur.
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