Emperor Penguins Counted From Space—A First
Satellite images show species population has doubled, study says.
Scientists have snapped penguin pictures from space before. But the new work used a technique called pansharpening, which offers high enough resolution for the scientists to differentiate between penguin poop, ice, and the birds themselves.
(See pictures: "20 Stunning Shots of Earth From Space.")
It's the same thing as "when you're looking through binoculars and tightening them up, making [your subject appear in] finer detail," said study co-author Michelle LaRue, a Ph.D. student in conservation biology at the University of Minnesota.
When LaRue first looked at the sharper satellite images, "I didn't believe that they were actually penguins," she said.
But when "you see it again and again ... there's nothing else it could be."
The penguin-counting team examined images taken in 2009