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October 10th, 2013
Australia Teams with NASA on Earth Observation

Since 2007 he has been the Project Scientist for UAVSAR, a project that uses synthetic aperture radar on manned and unmanned aircraft to collect data on ground movement, volcanic activity, vegetation, soil moisture and oceanography.

Dr Hensley’s three-year appointment at UNSW is designed to foster joint research relationships between NASA and the University. It will also involve a small teaching component and the co-supervision of two UNSW PhD students.

“My research partnerships at UNSW encompass several areas, including the use of radar interferometry to do surface and ground deformation detection, and radar remote sensing for ecological and carbon cycle monitoring,” says Dr Hensley, who has been visiting UNSW to teach a short postgraduate course.

Hensley is part of a $330,000 ARC Discovery project led by UNSW’s Associate Professor Linlin Ge. The objective is to “develop advanced, cost-effective and accurate imaging radar techniques that can measure subtle surface changes frequently, in order to safeguard significant infrastructure”.

“Part of what we’re doing is developing algorithms and software for ingesting the radar data, and processing it into usable information for the end-user,” says Dr Hensley.

“One of our projects is trying to monitor the subtle ground movement that arises from injecting CO2 underground for carbon capture and storage,” says Associate Professor Ge, Director of the UNSW Geoscience and Earth Observing Systems group.

Their technology will have wide-ranging applications for things like ecological and groundwater monitoring, oil and mineral resource detection, emergency services and disaster management, earthquake and volcano monitoring, and border security.

When Dr Hensley first joined NASA in 1991 he worked on the Magellan spacecraft – a robotic probe sent to Venus to map the planet’s surface and measure its gravity. Later he was part of project to map the lunar surface, in an attempt to pinpoint the most suitable locations for possible human habitation.