An innovative and original experiment designed by a team of researchers at the University of the Aegean was launched in waters off the coast of Lesvos earlier in June. The researchers hope their work will help the world tackle one of the biggest challenges that humanity will have to face in coming decades: the fight against plastic pollution.
“Some days have passed and our targets show up very well in the satellite images…We are essentially in a position to say that we can see the plastics in great concentrations on the surface of the sea,” said Aegean University Professor Constantinos Topouzelis, who heads the team, in statements to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) radio station ‘Praktorio 104.9 FM’ on Saturday.
The team has developed a system that can search, find and then track millions of tonnes of plastic that are on or near the surface of the sea, estimating the density of plastic in a body of water.
They have set up three floating targets measuring 10X10 metres each, which were set in position on June 7 off a Mytilene beach. Meanwhile, four satellites (Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, TeraSAR-X and WorldView-3) have collected data from the area, recording the presence of the plastics in many, different ways. At the same time, four drones have been used to chart the position and density of the plastic pollution with great accuracy, at specific band regions.
Asked whether the system would work in other seas, apart from the Aegean, Topouzelis replied affirmatively, saying the process followed indicated that this would be possible.