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Space Archaeologist Sarah Parcak Wins The Coveted $1 Million 2016 TED Prize

by Milicent Atieno
Space Archaeologist Sarah Parcak Wins The Coveted $1 Million 2016 TED Prize

Sarah Parcak is one jubilant Space Archaeologist after she was awarded the highly coveted $1 million 2016 TED Prize. This award to Parcak was in recognition of her contribution towards historic sites preservation using satellite imagery.

The TED Prize award community that focuses on ‘ideas worth spreading’ will give Parcak one ‘wish to change the world.’ The wish granted to Parcak will be unveiled ruining the TED2016 Conference set to take place between February 15 and 19 in Vancouver, Canada.

Sarah Parcak is an Egyptology specialist and also an anthropology professor at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is also a founding director of the Laboratory for Global Observation. Many have likened Parcak to Indiana Jones; because she has been unearthing ancient civilization and protecting vestiges from destructions and looters.

You would be forgiven for assuming that the nickname space archaeologist has something to do with using satellites to search for intelligent alien life forms. The truth of the matter is Parcak’s work is purely about discovering human settlements right here on Earth. She is on the hunt for discovering ancient civilization’s settlement from past centuries or millenniums.

As a space archaeologist, Parcak’s works entails using high-quality thermal and infrared imaging satellites floating some 700 miles above the surface of the planet. She focuses the satellites towards the Earth and not into deep space in search of aliens in Mars or other celestial bodies in space as the name (space archaeologist) seems to suggest.

The satellites have strong invisible radiant energy with longer wavelengths that the visible light, thus enabling them to penetrate Earth’s surface and identified buried artifacts. It is said the satellites can pick up artifacts with a diameter measuring even less that a meter from its 700 miles distance away from the surface of the Earth. Scientists can also use the satellites to identify tunnels and footpaths pillagers could be using.

A documentary released by the BBC back in 2011 shows that the ground-breaking aerial technology used in these satellites was previously used for military purposes. Parcak has used this technology to discover 17 pyramids, 1,000 tombs and 3,100 ancient settlements. She has dedicated the past 17 years of her life to conducting excavations and surveys over Egypt’s landscape. Her husband, Greg Mumford has been her constant partner throughout this discover.

At one point in her career, she unearthed 70 sites in just over three weeks; a feat that would ordinarily require about three years using the conventional methods employed by archaeologists.

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