NASA satellite network bolsters Mekong River observations

Unevenly split across a half-dozen country borders, the will for transboundary management of the Mekong River rises and falls like its water levels.

But now, with the help of the U.S. space agency NASA, satellite data is set to play an increasingly prominent role in taking the pulse of the river. The organisation announced in early May a growing initiative with the Mekong River Commission and Asian Disaster Preparedness Center. The partnership will keep the gaze of an existing satellite network on the river basin in hopes of shrinking the “data equity” gap between its upper and lower stretches. 

Data sharing between Mekong countries has long been a flashpoint on the river, which is facing a cascade of compounding pressures. The satellite network will prioritise processing data on the river’s most existential concerns: hydropower development and climate change.

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