NASA Prepares for New Science Flights Above Coastal Louisiana

Updated April 7, 2020: Due to the current coronavirus situation, NASA’s Delta-X field campaign deployment has been postponed until later in the year. The scientific returns of the project are not expected to be impacted by this change of plans.

As sea levels rise, some areas of the Mississippi Delta are drowning while others are actually gaining mass. NASA’s Delta-X heads to the region to figure out why.

Delta-X, a new NASA airborne investigation, is preparing to embark on its first field campaign in the Mississippi River Delta in coastal Louisiana. Beginning in April, the Delta-X science team, led by Principal Investigator Marc Simard of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will be collecting data by air and by boat to better understand why some parts of the delta are disappearing due to sea-level rise while other parts are not.

“Millions of people live on, and live from services provided by, coastal deltas like the Mississippi River Delta. But sea-level rise is causing many major deltas to lose land or disappear altogether, taking those services with them,” Simard said. “We hope to be able to predict where and why some parts of the region will disappear and some are likely to survive.”

Deltas typically form where large rivers enter the ocean or other bodies of water. As a river flows downstream, it carries with it sediment – small particles of silt, gravel and clay. By the time the river meets the other body of water, it is moving more slowly, allowing the sediment to sink to the bottom and accumulate to form a landmass, or delta.

Deltas protect inland areas from wind and flooding during storms, they serve as a first line of defense against sea-level rise, and they are home to many species of plants and wildlife. The

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