High resolution imagery of sub-meter – less than 40 inches – is only available from GeoEye, DigitalGlobe, Astrium Geo, and ImageSat. It is what the stuff of Google is made of. GeoEye and DigitalGlobe represent approximately 75% of this market, and 2/3 of their revenue is tied to the U.S. government. There are lots of free, government sources of satellite imagery like Landsat, and weather satellites from NASA and NOAA, but these are not high-resolution satellites that can zoom in on your house, or support 3D modeling for engineering and virtual reality-type applications.
Read about why U.S. commercial satellite imagery is important:
After just having celebrated its 10th anniversary of service on 1 March 2012, ESA’s Envisat stopped sending data to earth. The last contact between the satellite and the ground station in Kiruna, Sweden was established on Sunday, ever since no data has been received. ESA’s mission control is working to re-establish contact with the satellite. Launched in 2002, Envisat has orbited Earth more than 50 000 times delivering thousands of images and other data used for example for climate change studies or natural disaster mitigation supporting more than 4000 projects in over 70 countries.
One of the last images to be transmitted before the loss of contact. Picture: ESA
The Change Matters viewer from Esri can show how your area has changed over a given time period, say for instance, from 1988 to 1990. Las Vegas is known for its phenomenal sprawl over the past four decades. Time-lapseimages from the Landsat earth monitoring satellites reveal in false-color, multispectral imagery how urban sprawl has stretched out from Nevada’s “Sin City” over the past four decades.
This latest video was posted by NASA in honor of the 28th anniversary of Landsat 5’s launch on March 1, but the pictures actually go back to 1972, when the Landsat program began.
It is a little frightening to be able to identify by satellite imagery a hidden nuclear facility in Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the facility was for “uranium enrichment” and was 18 months away from being operational. Satellite imagery company GeoEye has released a photo of what it says is this controversial and underground Iranian uranium enrichment site that was identified a week ago.
The overall view of the Iranian site. The mountain under which the site is built is to the lower right of the image. (Credit: GeoEye satellite image/IHS Jane's analysis)
The underwater volcanic eruption off El Hierro Island continues four months after it began.
Collected on February 10, 2012, this natural color satellite image shows the site of the eruption, near the fishing village of La Restinga. The beautiful aquamarine water indicates high concentrations of volcanic material. Right above the vent a patch of brown water can resemble a turbulent hot tub when the eruption is strongest.
This image was acquired by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) aboard the Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. The eruption is just off the southern coast of El Hierro, the youngest of the Canary Islands. El Hierro is about 460 kilometers (290 miles) west of the coast of Morocco and Western Sahara.
According to El Hierro Digital measurements of the sea floor by the Instituto Oceanográfico Español showed that the volcano’s summit is now only 120 meters (390 feet) beneath the ocean surface—10 meters (30 feet) higher than it was in mid January. The height of the erupting cone is about 210 meters (690 feet) from the former ocean bottom, with a total volume over 145 million cubic meters (512 million cubic feet) of new material.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon, using EO-1 ALI data. Caption by Robert Simmon.
Released by an international team of scientists is a laser-radar image of the area surrounding the site of a Magnitude 7.2 earthquake that occurred in Mexicali, Mexico, in 2010. The laser radar technique can spot surface changes of just a few centimetres; in this image the blue represents a post-quake reduction in height and red indicates an increase.
Laser radar image of Mexicali, Mexico earthquake, 2010
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Center for Climate Prediction holds a monthly drought briefing by teleconference to identify the latest drought areas in North America, according to Don Comis of the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS). ARS scientists, Martha Anderson and Bill Kustas, are hoping that in a year or so, data from their computer model/satellite package will give evapotranspiration (ET) maps a seat at that briefing.
Recently the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) Board of Directors voted unanimously for a third resolution calling for immediate support and funding for the continuation of the Nation’s moderate resolution imaging program. Several events have led to the possible discontinuation of the collection of moderate resolution, multispectral remote sensing. One of those events was the technical failure in the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) instrument on-board the Landsat 7 spacecraft in May 2003, and most recently the decline of the Landsat 5 spacecraft.
Although many other remote sensing efforts exist these days, the more than 40 years of uninterrupted Landsat imagery has been instrumental in monitoring ongoing stresses on the Earth from climate change, population, land use and other factors that challenge the natural resources available to mankind. According to the announcement, measuring the Earth’s resources such as food, water, and energy is best done by collecting and implementing moderate resolution imagery.