Lewis and Clark journeyed west in 1803, they used a sextant and the stars to navigate, and
news of their discoveries took months of miles to reach the ears of Thomas Jefferson.
researchers are using tools that would seem like science fiction to those intrepid
explorers. John Kuglin, director of UMs Earth Observing System Education Project,
said that NASAs recently launched Terra satellite, which contains software written
by UM scientists, will study the route of the Corps of Discovery, honing in on details a
kilometer square. He said Terra can map the entire surface of Earth every two days in
Another satellite, Ikonos II, will examine specific Lewis and Clark stopping points
some in Montana zooming in on details as small as a meter.
Kuglin admits it isnt really fair. The Corps of Discovery slogged thousands of
miles to study the West, while todays researchers examine Montana from orbit with a
mouse click. And with the Internet providing nearly instantaneous transmission of
information, the pace of discovery is speeding up.