at the University of New Mexico

The Center for Rapid Environmental Assessment and Terrain Evaluation (CREATE), is headquartered on the campus of the University of New Mexico. The Center acquires near real-time remotely sensed data from environmental satellites and stores these data within CREATE’s computational facilities. CREATE provides rapid assessment of changing environmental conditions specifically in the State of New Mexico and generally across a region ranging from Panama onthe south to Canada on the north and from the Pacific to Atlantic Oceans.

The research center develops methods to acquire, process, analyze and deliver environmental data to end users with a goal of reducing data lag times from the current weeks to less than two hours. These data sets will be used to support existing Decision Support Systems in hydrology, meteorology, ecology and climatology as well as providing the research framework and data required to generate the next generation of DSS's using NASA data sets and assets.

CREATE is also used as an educational tool to train the next generation of image processing scientists for work in a range of environmental fields.


CREATE Receiving Station
at The UNM Science and Technology Park


CREATE's 4.5m X-Band Antenna

Project Description

The Center houses two data receiving antennas at UNM's Science and Technology Park at 801 University Blvd. SE, and a Processing Lab at the UNM High Performance Computing Center (HPC). The Center's antenna's and processors currently receive MODIS data from NASA's Aqua and Terra Satellites, and data from NOAA's HRPT satellites.

Currently the assessment of environmental conditions in New Mexico is limited to after-the-fact processing of information gathered from ground based environmental sensors and monitors and remotely sensed imagery produced by environmental satellites. Because of receiving, processing and dissemination problems, these assessments typically occur weeks to months after the event of interest. This information is of little value to the researcher who needs to place this data in a real-time modeling framework for scientific studies or to the end user who needs to make response decisions while the event is occurring or shortly thereafter. In a rapid response situation, such as that involving a terrorist attack or associated with a major environmental disaster, the lack of efficient means to access and process this data lead to significant negative economic impact and could cost thousands of lives. This information could become available with the proper statewide data collection network in place, and with the proper processing and dissemination capabilities on-line.

Access to real-time environmental data is critical in developing interdisciplinary models that can be used for scientific research, hazard response, and policy decisions. Federal and State agencies could utilize the data sets produced from the CREATE environment to rapidly assess and respond to environmental hazards and security concerns. CREATE's capabilities, when linked to predictive and diagnostic models, would be an extremely useful tool for environmental policy makers and when coupled with advanced visualization tools and economic models could influence the development of new decision-making tools.

The CREATE project focuses on the rapid acquisition, processing and distribution of NASA, NOAA, and commercial remote sensing imagery and looks to augment these products with derivative, geospatially referenced analytic data sets. The facility is comprised of a 4.5 meter satellite dish, image processing hardware and software, data storage and data archives, and web-based data distribution capabilities. The project is designed to operate under most weather conditions with 24-hour coverage of the western United States and northern Mexico with the ability to respond immediately to user demands considered to be of primary importance.

While data acquisition and rapid processing of this data is a critical factor in the success of CREATE, we see the facility as primarily serving the research and applications community in New Mexico and the southwestern United States. In this role CREATE utilizes both existing data processing algorithms and newly developed algorithms for specific scientific and user applications. 

NASA's Home Page
The University of New Mexico