CHAART's Role in Public Health

The Center for Health Applications of Aerospace Related Technologies (CHAART) staff were available to consult with investigators on a variety of scientific issues affecting the successful application of remote sensing (RS) and geographic information systems (GIS) technologies for landscape epidemiology. In addition to scientific support, CHAART offered investigators technical consultation on data acquisition, image processing and analysis, database development, field support, and spatial statistics and modeling.

For centuries, humans have been attempting to understand the relationships between their health and the environment. Recently, the increasing rate of environmental change has dramatically altered the patterns of human health at the community, regional, and global scales. The re-emergence of many age-old afflictions, including malaria and yellow fever, as well as the emergence of diseases, such as Lyme disease and hantavirus, illustrate the impact that natural and human-induced environmental change can have on the map of human health. In recognition of these important trends, health organizations have called for the development and implementation of new disease surveillance tools.

Many of the parameters associated with environmental change and patterns of disease can be sensed remotely by instruments onboard aircraft and satellites, and modeled spatially with specialized computer software. RS and GIS technologies can be used to describe local and landscape-level features that influence the patterns and prevalence of disease and then model their occurrence in space and time.

In recognition of the call for disease surveillance tools, NASA initiated its Global Monitoring and Human Health (GMHH) program in 1985; CHAART grew out of this program and was funded through 2004.

The CHAART staff had expertise in a wide range of unique aerospace-related technologies, including remote sensing, GIS, global positioning systems (GPS), and computer modeling and their application to human health-related issues. The purpose of CHAART was to make this expertise and these tools available to advance research, applications, and education within the health community.

Last updated: August 2006