A tropical storm swirls and builds off the coast of Miami. Extraordinary California wildfires leave burn scars on the landscape, creating the potential for dangerous mud and debris slides. And human activity continues to change the planet, raising temperatures and causing extreme weather events.

Meanwhile, more than 8,000 satellites in space, thousands of sensors on ground stations and hundreds of underwater vehicles are hard at work, collecting vital information that could help us organize responses to emergency events, prevent disasters and better understand our planet.

But these devices aren’t talking to one another.

The challenge today is twofold. First, current vehicles and tools are typically set up to communicate solely with control stations on the ground. Second, solving that problem will require the development of new technology to ensure that as new vehicles and tools are built, they are able to collect and share the right kinds of data.

Now, Paul Grogan has been awarded a grant of more than $1 million from NASA to develop such solutions. Grogan is an associate professor of computer science and industrial engineering in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Much of his work focuses on creating information systems to assist with Earth-observing space missions.

“So, of course, on Earth, we have the internet, which is the backbone for all kinds of information exchange,” Grogan says. “That similar capability does not exist currently for these different types of Earth-observing assets.”

Working under the supervision of the Earth Science Division, a branch of NASA devoted to collecting critical planetary data and using that information to improve human life, Grogan is developing a Novel Observing Strategies Testbed, or NOS-T, that will create a sort of Earth science Wi-Fi system that connects connects satellites, sensors and sea vehicles.

Read the full story on Full Circle.