Explosion in Lebanon August 2020

Start Date

August 4, 2020

Overview

A major explosion occurred on August 4, 2020, in the port city of Beirut in Lebanon. News reports indicate that the explosion caused numerous fatalities and injuries and damaged many buildings for miles around.  News reports also state the explosion was caused by 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which is roughly equivalent to 1100 tons of TNT. 

NASA's ARIA team with the Earth Observatory of Singapore, used satellite data to map the extent of likely damage following a massive explosion in Beirut. Dark red pixels represent the most severe possible damage. Areas in orange could be moderately damage

NASA's ARIA team with the Earth Observatory of Singapore, used satellite data to map the extent of likely damage following a massive explosion in Beirut. Dark red pixels represent the most severe possible damage. Areas in orange could be moderately damaged, and areas in yellow are likely to have sustained somewhat less damage. Each colored pixel represents an area of 10 meters (11 yards). The map contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data processed by ESA (European Space Agency) and analyzed by ARIA team scientists at JPL, Caltech, and Earth Observatory of Singapore.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Earth Observatory of Singapore/ESA

The NASA Earth Applied Sciences Disasters Program has activated in support of the explosion in Lebanon to determine what NASA resources and capabilities may be available to support risk management for this event. 

NASA's Advanced Rapid Imaging and Analysis (ARIA) team, in collaboration with the Earth Observatory of Singapore, used satellite-derived Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data to map the likely extent of damage. SAR data from space lets scientists compare ground surface changes from before and after a major event. For this event, the project tried a new method to combine ascending and descending observations to see both eastern and western sides of the objects on the ground. 

ARIA is a collaboration between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California which manages JPL for NASA. It is funded in part by the Disasters program area of NASA Earth Applied Sciences through the NASA ROSES A.37 research project “Global Rapid Damage Mapping System with Spaceborne SAR Data”.

Photo taken from the International Space Station (ISS) after the explosion on August 11, 2020. Credit: NASA Earth and Remote Sensing Unit

Photo taken from the International Space Station (ISS) after the explosion on August 11, 2020. Credit: NASA Earth and Remote Sensing Unit

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) also took photographs of the affected region to aid in assessing the damage. These images were then manually georeferenced by members of the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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