Congratulations to Trenton Mulick, Alice Ni, and Sebastián Sánchez Bernal, NASA Pale Blue Dot Winners!

Congratulations to Earth and Environment students Trenton Mulick, Alice Ni, and Sebastián Sánchez Bernal for being selected as a winning group in the Pale Blue Dot competition organized by NASA and UNOOSA.

Their team “EE Frogs” completed the project “Solar panel suitability on the Turks and Caicos Islands.” Great work team!


About their project:

To determine solar panel suitability, we used data on surface temperature, elevation, slope, and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Surface temperature, elevation, and slope all affect either the efficiency of solar panel energy generation or the ease with which solar panels can be installed. NDVI is used as an estimate of vegetation cover.

These islands have climatically important ecosystems such as mangrove forests, which sequester high amounts of carbon and provide other critical ecosystem services such as shoreline protection. We determined that a higher NDVI value indicating higher vegetation cover should lower the suitability score in order to prevent destroying these ecosystems, which could offset much of the environmental benefits that solar panels provide.

Data on annual cloud cover or distance from roads could easily be incorporated with the data we already gathered to add an additional information source and improve the map.

Check out EE Frog’s full write-up and solution in the competition repo.


About our students:

Alice Ni is a senior at Boston University pursuing a BA and MS degree focused on geospatial sciences and remote sensing. Her interests lie in using technology and data analysis to understand and model dynamic natural processes and climate change. She is currently working on a project called visualizingEnergy, where the goal is to present data stories to inform and guide an equitable energy transition.

Sebastián Sánchez Bernal is studying Remote Sensing and Geospatial Sciences at Boston University. Born and raised in Mexico, he built a strong foundation in Physics Engineering at Tecnologico de Monterrey. Sebastián is the CEO and Co-Founder of WARPDOC INC., an initiative that seeks to simplify the code documentation process for software developers by utilizing machine learning for automation.

Trenton Mulick is currently a student at Boston University pursuing a master’s degree in Remote Sensing and Geospatial Sciences. He focuses on learning how satellites collect remote sensing imagery and how to apply those images to studying the global environment. In his free time he can be found hiking and rock climbing around New England.