Using Shoebox-Sized Satellites, ASU Researchers Track Arizona Rivers

By Ron Dungan
Published: Monday, August 2, 2021 - 6:30pm
Updated: Monday, August 23, 2021 - 12:40pm
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ASU researchers are using satellite technology to track the flow of the Hassayampa River, something that hasn’t been possible using traditional methods such as gauging stations.

Like most Arizona rivers, the Hassayampa can be dry in places, and its remote stretches can be difficult to access.

Using data from a fleet of about 200 commercial satellites about the size of a shoebox, hydrologists were able to track the river and determine where and when it flowed.

ASU hydrologist Enrique Vivoni says the data can help researchers have a better understanding of Arizona’s arid waterways.

“We were asked by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, to see if we could bring new tools to the problem of finding out where and when do rivers in Arizona flow,” Vivoni said.

The satellites may also help improve understanding of groundwater and the Colorado River.

Science Water