NASA/MSFC’s Public Health Application Research

NASA’s Public Health application area focuses on Earth science applications to public health, particularly regarding infectious disease, emergency preparedness and response, and environmental health issues.  The application explores issues of toxic and pathogenic exposure, as well as natural and man-made hazards and their effects, for risk characterization/mitigation and improvements to health and safety.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HELIX-Atlanta Project
  • Health and Environment Linked for Information Exchange (HELIX)-Atlanta was a pilot linking project in Atlanta developed to support current and future state and local EPHT programs to implement data linking demonstration projects which could be part of the EPHT Network.
  • NASA/MSFC and the CDC were partners in linking environmental and health data to enhance public health surveillance.
  • Proving the feasibility of the approach was the main objective.
University of Mississippi Medical Center Public Health Project
  • Enhance a decision support tool for asthma surveillance, prediction and intervention, called GeoMedStat, developed by the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) by integrating it with NASA research results.
  • Collocated AQS ozone sites and OMI satellite grid points analyzed for 2005 - 2006.
  • Regression equations between daily ground- level ozone and OMI Total Column Ozone (TCO) were determined.
  • Very small correlations were found, perhaps because 90% of TCO is stratospheric, which is uncorrelated with ground-level ozone.

University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Public Health REGARDS Project
  • Using high-resolution satellite data to evaluate linkages between blood pressure, land cover/land use, and temperature.
  • With urbanization, an increase of hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, has been observed. Research studies in Africa have shown a correlation between urban dwellers and elevated blood pressure. Few studies in the U.S. have examined regional and urbanization differences in hypertension.
  • REGARDS (Reasons for Geographical and Racial Differences in Stroke) national cohort study, this analysis examines relationships of the living environment (urban, suburban, rural) and land surface temperatures with the incidence of hypertension in four U.S. cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis
Rapid Prototyping Capabilities: Environmental Factors Affecting Asthma and Allergies
  • Evaluate the impact of pollen release and downwind concentrations on the effect in human health.
  • Previous NASA studies have addressed airborne dust prediction systems Public Health Applications in Remote Sensing (PHAiRS) which have determined that pollen forecasts and simulations are possible.
  • Adapt the deterministic dust model (as an in-line system with the NWS operational forecast model) used in PHAiRS to simulate downwind dispersal of pollen, initialize the model with pollen source regions derived from MODIS.

Technical Contact: Dr. Doug Rickman (
Responsible Official: Dr. James L. Smoot (
Page Curator: Diane Samuelson (