Tag Archives: imaging satellite operations

Win A (Sky)box Full of Imagery

Box full of imagery

Do you have a need?  More specifically, do you have a need for European Space Imaging data using Skybox satellite imagery worth 20,000 Euros?  What about your mom?  Your dad?  Okay–how about your school?  Ah, there we go.

That’s right, Copernicus-Masters has issued a challenge, and the prize to that challenge is Skybox imagery.  What’s the challenge?  Well, use your imagination.  No, really, European Space Imaging and Skybox Imaging want you to use your imagination.  In speak obviously inspired by engineers and bureaucrats, they say they want “ideas that have global impact, are easily scalable, and enable more efficient decision-making.”

So, translating that:  imagine big ideas that can grow, increasing capability allowing for a quicker reaction time.  At least I think that’s what they want with the “efficient decision-making” part.  But if you want to read the whole of it, including the evaluation criteria used to determine a challenge winner, then go to this site.  Signups are accepted up through 13 July 2014 (noted on the bottom of their brochure, here).  I did not notice any citizenship or age limitations.  I might do it myself.

This is a crowdsourcing attempt at generating ideas about how to use new space technology.  The Skybox satellites provide HD video and images, which is new.  And I think they would like to provide the video 24/7, something also that hasn’t been done before.  They also think the time it takes for their satellites to see one particular spot of the Earth’s surface, the revisit rate, will be increased as they populate their constellation of satellites.  That too, might even put some government efforts to shame.  And all of this might be new.

So, how do you think Skybox should be using their new tools?  Give them an answer if you’ve got a great idea.  And there are other challenges on the Copernicus-Masters website.  I may elaborate about them a bit more in the future

Why Space Matters: A Picture of A Deadly Mudslide

Pictures have been all over the news about the killer mudslide in Washington state.  It’s tragic and sad to see and know people died from the mudslide, and it seems like it’s still nothing but bad news accompanying the pictures.

NASA’s Landsat 8, a Low Earth Orbiting satellite, provided an image of the mudslide, which is pictured on Live Science’s website and post.  In the post, they compare a picture taken by the NASA Earth Observatory satellites earlier in the year to the one Landsat 8 provided.  The differences are probably what one would expect, but the scale of the mudslide is impressive.  The image might be helpful to geologists (?) trying to figure out where the next problem might be before people start building around there again.

As for satellites helping to pinpoint people who were stuck in the slides, well, what you see in those images are as good as it gets for those particular satellites.  So nothing can really be seen.  There may be other satellites, like DigitalGlobe’s ,that are more capable, but chances are still unlikely for their satellites images to be helpful.

Why Space Matters: Malaysian Malaise Mit Man-Made Moons

The Epoch Times posted this article explaining a bit more about the limitations of satellites in finding Malaysian Airlines MH370.  This finding in spite of DigitalGlobe’s initiative with Tomnod to get many eyes looking for something unusual in the search areas.

In previous posts, I’ve talked about the odds and limitations of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geosynchronous (GEO) imagery satellites viewing the actual flight of the airplane in their Field of View.  But now there are satellites looking for the sad traces of the airplane.  This time, at least according to the Epoch Times post, the limitations are training and imagery resolution.  The training is in regard to imagery analysts, who can find differences in pictures that perhaps Tomnod volunteers miss.  Imagery analysts have the training and experience to do that.

The resolution issue comes from the fact that most commercial imagery satellites are allowed to release imagery in resolutions of a half a meter or more, even if the satellites’ payloads are more capable (like DigitalGlobe 3, with a 31 centimeter resolution).  So even with all those eager Tomnod volunteers, the search for MH370 debris is being hobbled through federal government regulations that won’t allow them to see the “good stuff.”  Using higher resolution imagery is no guarantee for finding the airplane’s pieces, but it couldn’t hurt.  Of course, maybe it’s moot, and there’s just not much to find.

The Difference Between Suitability and Security Clearance

Here’s a little blurb I did for Clearancejobs.com to help people get a better understanding between the suitability for a government job and getting a government security clearance.  How does this apply to space?  Well, a lot of government space jobs require a security clearance whether you’re civilian government, military, or contractor.  Some of the commercial space companies, such as Digitalglobe, also require a clearance for interacting with their government customer.  So, definitely space related and you can read the short and hopefully clear definitions for them both, here.

Iranians Stop Space Monkeying Around–This Time

Iran Satellite

According to this Strategypage.com post, Iran’s space program is growing because of the restrictions placed on what it can buy from other countries.  Example:  Iran has just announced they’ve built their own satellites, which is interesting, but shouldn’t be surprising.  They do have a very educated population, are industrialized, and have shown determination to stay in the space arena.  Why would we think restrictions will keep human ingenuity from overcoming them?  Haven’t we learned anything from the last decade or two of technological innovation in spite of barriers?

The post states there are two satellites:  one for communications and the other for imagery.  If they’re both Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites, then the communications satellite might have some significant limitations.  And the imagery satellite only has 100 meter resolution, which means if the object they’re taking a picture of is as big or bigger than a soccer field, they’ll see it.  Not very good then.  They are both “Made in Iran” though.

But does that have any meaning in this day and age?  The thing is, we now have companies and people building much smaller satellites with better capability.  The small satellites are cheaper, too.  Private industry, at least in other parts of the world, seems to be coming to the fore.  Why didn’t the Iranians go down the route of getting private companies involved, with awards for the first one to do “X,” instead of building these clunkers at a university?  What the Iranians have done is to emulate the old, monolithic corporate culture of countries they despise, when they had the opportunity to go their own way.

That would have been more interesting to watch.  At least their “Space Monkey” program is fun to read about.