Image of Illegal Gold Mine located in the Amazon Basin in Roraima Brazil
Image of Illegal Gold Mine located in the Amazon Basin in Roraima Brazil

Eyes in the Sky with Larissa Rodrigues & Jennifer Holm

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About This Episode

How is new tech helping protect the rainforest? Neil deGrasse Tyson and comedian Chuck Nice learn about how space technology is helping uncover illegal gold mines and protecting the Amazon, with illegal mining expert Larissa Rodrigues and Earth researcher Jennifer Holm.

We explore how using space technology and satellite images can help us understand Earth’s surface. Learn how the democratization of satellite imagery is helping crowdsource data. Larissa Rodrigues, a São Paulo researcher in energy and land use, tells us about how satellite images help discover illegal gold mining operations in the Amazon Rainforest. We discuss the impacts of these operations on the surrounding environments and what they look for in satellite images. What are the main challenges in shutting down illegal mines?

Next, we are joined by Jennifer Holm, Earth Research Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, to learn about the Amazon’s contribution to the climate. What is a Carbon Sink? Is the Amazon the lungs of the planet? How do we incentivize countries to keep their rainforests? Learn about deforestation, plans to reforest the Amazon, and how LIDAR gets used to see through the jungle canopy. How can ordinary people help save the Amazon?

Thanks to SkyFi for sponsoring today’s episode. Bringing nearly instant access to high-quality satellite and aerial imagery along with expert-created analytics, get a bird’s eye view of anywhere on the planet with SkyFi’s easy-to-use web browser or mobile app and create a free account today at

Thanks to our Patrons James Aurouze, Andrea Ramirez, Amy Tan, Joede870, Cris, Gina Martin, Glenn Fishkin, Mihael Mirt, Lion King, and Gábriel Németh for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

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