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]


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]

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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.