Global Monitoring and Human Health Program

Malaria Projects

The Global Monitoring and Human Health (GMHH) program was initiated in 1985 by NASA's Life Sciences Division to explore the practical application of remote sensing and geographic information systems (RS/GIS) technologies for malaria surveillance. The goal of the program, phased over nine years, has been to determine if remote sensing and field data, integrated in a GIS, can be used to predict the spatial and temporal variability in malaria vector population dynamics for the purpose of assessing malaria transmission risk. This collaborative research program has had three phases. The initial phase focused on the dynamics of the western malaria mosquito in California rice fields. The landscape approach developed in California was extended to a malaria-endemic area in southern Chiapas, Mexico, in Phase II. In the last phase, the model that was used to successfully predict villages with high abundance of malaria vectors was tested in another area of Chiapas.

California Rice Fields Chiapas, Mexico

Other Activities


NASA has supported three interdisciplinary workshops to expand the scope of the GMHH research. The first two workshops focused on a review of how remote sensing has been used to address the relationship between environmental change, and the patterns of vector-borne disease. The focus of the third workshop was to evaluate the need for a remote sensing system dedicated to human health and to define NASA's role in this area. One recommendation from this workshop was that NASA should develop a center for education, training, and transfer of RS/GIS technologies to the user community. In response, NASA formed CHAART at Ames Research Center in California.

University of Texas, El Paso

Since the late 1980s, investigators from NASA's GMHH program and the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP) have collaborated on a number of studies that involved students in the development of innovative approaches to the analysis of remote sensing data. Currently, CHAART is part of a consortium of universities and agencies that is providing technical support to UTEP in the establishment of the Pan American Center for Earth and Environmental Studies (PACES). The goal of PACES is to provide a repository of data and information that will enable researchers to develop an improved understanding of geological, ecological, and environmental processes, as well as changes in land use taking place along the United States/Mexico border.

University of Michigan

The GMHH program has provided support for two satellite design courses in the Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Sciences Department at the University of Michigan. The purpose of these courses was to consider some of the engineering design issues associated with the development of a small remote sensing satellite system, called MEDSAT, dedicated to human health applications. A total of 40 undergraduate and graduate students from engineering, natural resources, biology, and public health participated in the courses. The final design specified a 340-kg satellite, in an equatorial orbit, supporting a 4-channel visible/near-infrared multispectral scanner and an L-band SAR.

Collaborating Institutions:
Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences
University of California, Davis
Centro de Investigacion de Paludismo, Chiapas, Mexico
California State University, Fresno
University of Texas Health Sciences Center, Houston
University of Texas, El Paso
GMHH Publications

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Last updated: 6 May 1998