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Tue Jun 30, 2020, 10:25 PM

New interactive map shows how COVID-19 changed the world

It allows users to track changes in economic activity, climate change and air and water quality, among others
Fermin Koop by Fermin Koop June 29, 2020

In an unprecedented joint effort, the largest three spaces agencies of the world have joined forces to create a new tool that monitors the impact of the coronavirus around the world in unprecedented detail. The map combines a vast amount of data from Earth-observing satellites and is freely available to the public.

The San Francisco Bay. Credit NASA

The “COVID-19 Earth Observation Dashboard” was created by the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The agencies formed the project in April and moved fast since then to set up the new online tool.

The dashboard integrates satellite data from the three agencies with analytical tools to allow users to track changes in economic activity, agriculture, climate change and air and water quality. It gives both policymakers and the general public a unique platform to explore the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic.

ESA’s Director for Earth Observation, Josef Aschbacher, said in a statement: “As the challenges we face from COVID-19 are global by nature, international collaboration among space agencies is key. Through this close cooperation, ESA, NASA and JAXA have created a new centralized platform. Through this, we are making sure that our Earth observation programs deliver their full potential to society.”

The dashboard shows changes in air quality across the globe, one of the first visible impacts of the lockdowns set up to reduce the spread of the virus. The levels of nitrogen dioxide, caused by the fumes from traffic, the burning of fossil fuels and industrial activity, are visible in satellite data and were added to the dashboard.


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