NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has released a video today showing visually the ice loss in the Arctic Sea from 1979-2007. The video is pretty impressive showing the degree of loss over the last 30 years or so. The video is linked on the right hand side along with some flat photo images.
On Thursday, NASA posted a nice short article on their Landsat mission website summarizing the planning for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission. The planned launch is July 2011, and Ball Aerospace and Technology won the contract this summer to build the Operational Land Imager instrument which will be the primary sensor for LCDM.
With Landsat 5 experiencing more problems, it’s even more critical for the remote sensing research community that the new instrument gets built and launched successfully.
I have been trying to catch up on everything that’s been going on while I spent a week writing my PhD comps, and I ran across a short article about India’s Dept of Science and Technology looking to deploy a system for collecting real-time data on standing crops, which they’ve already been testing . Although this is old-hat in remote sensing, the improvements to satellite return visit times to under a day in some cases mean that you can get fresh data for daily monitoring of biomass. The Indian plan is to use a combination of data from both their own and foreign satellites, especially making use of public domain data. The interesting thing about this project is that the hope is to use the data and analyses at a variety of decision-making levels, from the central and regional governments all the way down to the local farmers’ level.
MSNBC reported that the National Applications Office, set to open its doors on Monday, Oct. 1st, has been put on hold so that legal and privacy issues raised by some members of Congress about the domestic use of spy satellites. There is currently no timetable as to when, or if, the program will be launched.
This story has been all over the traditional news – the US is opening up domestic use of spy satellites. The news is rather troubling for privacy concerns. As the article points out, the US is certainly moving into complicated and murky legal waters, as there are specific bans on military use in the domestic arena. While there has certainly been a lot of concern about private companies documenting information, I have to wonder if there will be a greater outcry when it’s tax dollars being used instead of private dollars. I also wonder if this will press to improve our remote sensing capabilities, much like what was mentioned in the FLIIWG working group Sue blogged yesterday.
I can’t imagine this will be the last we hear on this specific issue.
One of our readers, Michelle, emailed me a press release announcing the release of the US National Land Imaging Program plan, which is the result of the work done by Future of Land Imaging Interagency Working Group (FLIIWG). The plan is contained within a 120-page report, which is available here, and offers a set of policy recommendations, most importantly the creation of a National Land Imaging Program under the direction of the Department of the Interior. The actual plan itself is detailed in the first 8 pages of the document, with the remainder devoted to Appendices and related documents. I think one of the more interesting points in the policy report is the statement that, despite its amazing success, the Landsat program “has never been considered a truly operational capability. All Landsat satellites have been justified, built, and flown as experimental, scientific research systems with no assurance of the long-term continuity of the data.”
For those not already familiar with the issues related to US medium-resolution remote sensing programs, the supporting documents contained in the appendices and exhibits really give a good background about the history of satellite programs like Landsat.
The US and EU are working out an agreement (that may be signed as early as this week) to allow both US GPS and EU Galileo satellites to send data on the same frequency, meaning that receivers would be able to get signals from both systems. In theory, this would potentially double the number of visible satellites for a receiver equipped to handle both GPS and Galileo data streams. Although the Galileo system won’t be operational until at least 2012, the agreement will likely be an impetus for manufacturers of receivers to begin to look at the production of devices that could utilize data from both systems.
Via Yahoo! News
This is a nice mix of the new finding the old. Satellite sensors are being used to find possible sites for further exploration in Egypt. The remote sensing data makes finding the sites easier than more traditional means of digging around. Thus far, dozens of sites have been found that span as far back as 5,000 years ago. While some of this may be going on in other parts of the world already, this is a first for Egypt. It will be interesting to see what these efforts can add to our knowledge of the ancient world.
This is a great example of what ISDE5 is all about. SPOT Image in conjunction with partners ESRI, Infoterra, and Unesco is presenting Planet Action which is a participatory/educational site that:
aims to support projects all around the world whether from scientific or civil origins, bringing these communities as well as various industries together in an effort to foster awareness and coping strategies
and will focus on an array of earth observation ideas. It has a great subtitle of “Spot the impacts, engage in action.” We missed the unveiling on Monday, but there is a press event of Thursday so we will try to get an interview then. Head over to the Planet Action site to find out more on your own.
The good folks over at Ars Technica are reporting an AP article that says the US Intelligence community wants to have the license to censor satellite imagery. The idea is for the government to be able to control what the public can and cannot see in times of war or emergency via satellite. That way, people can’t take advantage of the situation by using the imagery. Although I can see the NGIA’s concern, I have to say I’m highly skeptical of the ability for the government to even begin to do this. Buying up all the data like they did before Afghanistan is impractical and the US isn’t the only game in the space town anymore. How can you stop data from around the world making it onto the Internet for all to see? Also, it’s always important to remember that that which can harm often can do good as well. Certainly however one feels on the issue, it will be an interesting development to follow.