Thomas Sever

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Dr. Thomas L. Sever is an archaeologist with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. [1] Dr. Sever is NASA's only archaeologist [2] and works primarily with Dan Irwin to decode remote sensing readings. While most of his work has dealt with South American and ancient Mayan civilization, Dr. Sever has also used his skills in meteorology. [3]

NASA US government agency responsible for civilian space programs, and aeronautical and aerospace research

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

Marshall Space Flight Center rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center

The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), located in Huntsville, Alabama, is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. As the largest NASA center, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo program. Marshall has been the lead center for the Space Shuttle main propulsion and external tank; payloads and related crew training; International Space Station (ISS) design and assembly; computers, networks, and information management; and the Space Launch System (SLS). Located on the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, MSFC is named in honor of Army General George Marshall.

Remote sensing Acquisition of information at a significant distance from the subject

Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon without making physical contact with the object and thus in contrast to on-site observation, especially the Earth. Remote sensing is used in numerous fields, including geography, land surveying and most Earth science disciplines ; it also has military, intelligence, commercial, economic, planning, and humanitarian applications.


Remote sensing uses an apparatus that scans the earth with CAMS to detect features not seen by the human eye. While the sensitivity creates hundreds of readings and possibilities, specialists must analyze the data to determine the meanings. [4]

Dr. Sever has found that thermal imaging can discover old routes and footpaths now covered by dense vegetation. By interpreting the data, NASA has located hundreds of old and abandoned cities, not previously known to exist. [5]

Sever also used remote sensing technology in Costa Rica. A project team of professionals from NASA and the University of Colorado searched in the mountains for ancient footpaths, the oldest known in the New World, buried under six volcanic deposits and obscured from the air by a 150-foot jungle canopy. The difference in moisture level of the soils detected by TIMS led to their discovery. [6] Although they saw no physical evidence of the footpaths on the ground, the team dug trenches to confirm their existence through archaeological investigation. In addition, by following the footpaths and using predictive modeling, the project team located approximately 60 settlements and other sites in areas of the Costa Rican mountains that had been believed to be uninhabited in prehistoric times. He currently teaches at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), his best class is the collapse of civilizations. [7]

Costa Rica Country in Central America

Costa Rica, officially the Republic of Costa Rica, is a sovereign state in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the northeast, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island. It has a population of around 5 million in a land area of 51,060 square kilometers. An estimated 333,980 people live in the capital and largest city, San José with around 2 million people in the surrounding metropolitan area.

New World Collectively, the Americas and Oceania

The New World is one of the names used for the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas, and Oceania.

Volcano A rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface

A volcano is a rupture in the crust of a planetary-mass object, such as Earth, that allows hot lava, volcanic ash, and gases to escape from a magma chamber below the surface.

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  1. "Tom Sever". NASA Official Webpage. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  2. Santos Ballon, Massie. "Tom Sever, Archaeologist". University of California, Santa Cruze. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  3. Sever, Tom. "Remote Sensing in Archaeology". Remote Sensing. Archived from the original on 25 February 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  4. Sever, Tom. "Remote Sensing in Archaeology". Remote Sensing. Archived from the original on 25 February 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  5. Santos Ballon, Massie. "Tom Sever, Archaeologist". University of California, Santa Cruze. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  6. Sever, Tom. "Arenal Region, Costa Rica". Archived from the original on 25 February 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  7. "Atmospheric Science Faculty". UAH. Archived from the original on 9 April 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013.