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A. A Major Boost for Academic Researchers

Narrator: This is Science Today. A private-public partnership is making it possible for academic researchers to use high resolution satellite images data that was once too expensive to use. David Siegel, a professor of geography at the University of California , Santa Barbara , says a collaboration between the university and a private company called Terra Image USA , is cutting down the cost by nearly 90 percent.

Siegel: A single scene, which is a snapshot taken from space on a 60 kilometer by 60 kilometer basis, can cost anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to eight thousand dollars. And if you want to do science at the cutting edge, you need to have enough of those that you can resolve temporal change.

Narrator: Siegel is using the high-res satellite images to study maps of kelp cover in the ocean.

Siegel: We don't have a really good handle on where and why it forms and how it changes. I requested six scenes, every two months for the next three years that would cost me something like $85,000 to do this, if I had to pay. So, it's truly an amazing opportunity.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin .