Scientists from NASA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the University of Alabama have formed an unusual partnership to track and fight disease. They’re using satellite data to map and correlate: asthma rates with weather and pollen data; childhood cancer with traffic patterns; birth defects with air pollution information. More information here, and also here.
Also, researchers are combining epidemiological (having to do with the causes and distribution of disease) data on stroke, which is particularly prevalent in the southeastern U.S. (including Kentucky), with satellite data on air quality, temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors to determine whether there’s any correlation.
The applications seem almost limitless, in a way. Imagine mapping climate data and famine, drought and intestinal diseases. When scientific disciplines collaborate and learn each other’s languages (that first conversation between a public health Ph.D and NASA engineer must have been interesting), discoveries can’t be too far off.