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How a satellite aided scientists on Viking quest

Image: Childs and Parcak
Archaeologists Chase Childs and Sarah Parcak remove an upper grass layer at the Point Rosee site in Newfoundland. (Credit: Greg Mumford / UAB)

Archaeologists worked hard to unearth what might well be only the second Viking site ever discovered in North America – but they had a little help from a higher power.

To be precise, 386 miles higher, in the form of DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite.

It was the satellite’s near-infrared imagery that set Sarah Parcak, an archaeologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and her colleagues on a quest to excavate the site on the southwestern coast of Newfoundland, known as Point Rosee.

“It screams, ‘Please excavate me!’” said Parcak, who won a $1 million TED Prize for her satellite sleuthing in Egypt.

Her quest in Newfoundland is the focus of a two-hour PBS/BBC documentary titled “Vikings Unearthed,” which makes its PBS broadcast debut on Wednesday and is available online for streaming via the “NOVA” website on PBS.org.

Get the full story on GeekWire. 

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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