Daily image acquisitions by Landsat satellites from 2000 to 2014, with a clear increase during last year. (Image: NASA)

The technological improvements of the past decade have brought into scene a faster and more efficient way of working with Landsat satellite data.

Scientists and students can now spend more time analysing and evaluating instead of compiling and sorting data from satellites. The modernization of the remote sensing research process has occurred thanks to two main factors: the growth of computing power and the public and free availability of Landsat archives from 2009.

The Landsat record provides the longest continuous view of Earth’s landscape from Space, with at least one image of every location on Earth per season every year. A Landsat satellite flies over every parcel of land on Earth every sixteen days (and sometimes every eight), allowing the detection of even subtle change in the landscape between seasons and between years. 

“With the full Landsat record available, we can finally look at really big problems,” said Jeff Masek, scientist of the Landsat 7... read more

Publishing Date: 22/04/2015
The GLOBE Programme helps pupils and students make connections between their local environment and the entire Earth system (Imagine: NASA)

Tomorrow, on Earth Day, April 22, NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) celebrate 20 years of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) programme. This science and education programme make it possible that students, teachers and scientist work together and participate in science data collection through hands-on science in their local communities.

Since its inception on Earth Day 1995, 114 countries, 28,000 schools and over 10 million students have participated in the GLOBE Programme.

Experience has shown that getting students involved in the project-based investigations encourages them to make connections between their local environment and the entire Earth system, providing a global perspective: “GLOBE provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the global environment and climate. The programme not only engages students in learning about their local... read more

Publishing Date: 21/04/2015
BaseVue 2013 uses Landsat 8 scenes ranging from April 2013 to June 2014. This one was captured by Landsat 8 in March 2014 (Image: NASA)

The Esri Landscape Content has announced the integration of the BaseVue 2013 land cover data into the Living Atlas of the World and on the ArcGIS Online content.

BaseVue 2013 is a commercial global product developed by MDA, covering the Earth’s entire land area, excluding Antarctica. BaseVue is independently derived from roughly 9,200 Landsat 8 images and is the highest spatial resolution (30m). The capture dates for the... read more

Publishing Date: 21/04/2015
Forest observed through satellite imagery (Image: NASA/GSFC)

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has signed a partnership agreement with Norway in order to help developing countries assess their forest resources and changes.

Through access to Earth observation data sources and the development of an easy-to-use platform for processing and interpreting this data, the countries will be able to better monitor and report about their forest situation.

"The new platform offers countries a set of efficient tools for monitoring changes in their forest area and carbon stocks, and for developing sustainable forest management regimes", said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director-General of FAO's Forestry Department.

Aware of the difficulties in internet access for some countries, FAO’s new software aims to overcome these problems by avoiding the need to download images locally and by using a "cloud-based" supercomputer instead. In addition, this project does not demand a paid license, being easier to... read more

Publishing Date: 20/04/2015
Awesome prizes go to the Copernicus Masters winner 2015 (Image: ESA)

The European Space Agency ESA announced that the Copernicus Masters competition is now open again to accept submissions. Entrepreneurs can submit their ideas for services, business concepts and applications based on satellite Earth observation data.

In its fifth year, ESA and Germany’s Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen are organising this competition to aid entrepreneurs in bringing their innovations to the market. In addition to over €300 000 in cash prizes the winner gets support in bringing the winning idea to market, exclusive data access and the chance to enter the incubation programme of one of Europe’s 11 ESA Business Incubation Centres (BICs).

“Taking part in Copernicus Masters gave us the chance to make some key contacts and gather valuable feedback,” said John Smedegaard, a co-founder of Ceptu, which won the CloudEO Farming Challenge in 2014. “The whole process was a huge help in advancing our idea and developing it into a commercial product through... read more

Publishing Date: 16/04/2015
Smartphones can detect ground motion and warn others before strong shaking arrives (Image: NASA/Emiliano Rodriguez Nuesch)

A study led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has shown smartphones and other personal electronic devices could be used as early warning systems for large earthquakes.

This technology would be especially useful for regions that cannot afford the high prices of conventional early warning systems. Despite being less accurate than scientific-grade equipment, the GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers in a smartphone can detect the permanent ground movement caused by fault motion in a large earthquake, according to USGS.

Crowdsourced observations from participating users are an essential part of the earthquake warning system. “Crowdsourced data are less precise, but for larger earthquakes that cause large shifts in the ground surface, they contain enough information to detect that an earthquake has occurred, information necessary for early warning,” said study co-author Susan Owen of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

This... read more

Publishing Date: 15/04/2015
Launch of satellite Transit 1B, April 13 1960 (Image: US Navy)

13 April 2015 was the 55th anniversary of the first navigation system reaching the orbit. The Transit 1B satellite was launched by NASA on 13 April 1960.

This satellite was designed to provide positioning for the US Navy’s fleet of Polaris ballistic missile submarines, a task it performed for over 30 years, as Money Week informs.

The Transit system can be considered as the ancestor of the Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS is constantly providing updated digital maps and other essential tools for our daily life.

Beside GPS, which covers the whole world, there are a few other systems aimed to cover large areas, like the China’s BeiDou system or the IRNSS from India. 

Publishing Date: 14/04/2015
Super cyclone Maysak captured from the International Space Station

In late March 2015, Typhoon Maysak, known locally as Chedeng, approached the norther Philippines. Typhoon Maysak strengthened into a super typhoon on March 31, reaching Category 5 hurricane status.

Various space technologies captured the storm from Space. The RapidScat instrument aboard the International Space Station captured Maysak's sustained winds reaching 30 m/s around the center and north of center of the storm on 1 April.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellites, both co-managed by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, captured rainfall and cloud data that revealed heavy rainfall and high thunderstorms in the storm.

Publishing Date: 14/04/2015
Static example of the experimental potential storm surge inundation map (Image: NOAA)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is preparing a new application to help people determine at a street-level where water could rise in a storm surge.

This experimental storm surge simulator will let people get a look at what kind of storm surges can take place in their surroundings and which can be the possible damages. The preliminary model is based on Charleston (South Carolina), USA.

"Surveys of the public show there is still a consistent misunderstanding of what the storm surge is, and how deadly it can be. In part this is due to the challenge scientists encounter in trying to simplify the complex physics of hurricanes for the public, and in part this is due to poor misunderstanding of flood zone maps that represent the flooding scenario as it might be viewed from above," reads the introduction to the app, according to Emergency... read more

Publishing Date: 13/04/2015
Geospatial crop data can help that local food production is optimised to meet demand (Image: FEMA Photo Library)

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) improved and relaunched an interactive website that delivers essential components for ensuring adequate, sustainable food production and food security through satellite-based maps. The website AfricaScienceNews reported: "First launched in 2008 using data from 2000, the website had been updated with new data from 2005, is more interactive, and includes a map gallery and data center."

The website, called Spatial Production Allocation Model (SPAM), also includes maps that were produced using satellite images and then fine-tuned by a global crop mapping community on the ground, who meticulously went through the remote sensing... read more

Publishing Date: 10/04/2015
Eventflyer (Image: ICIMOD)

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), UN-SPIDER’s Regional Support Office in Nepal, together with YoungInnovations, is organising a Hackathon: The International Space Apps Challenge in Kathmandu. It will take place this weekend from 11 to 12 April. ICIMOD is organising this event through its SERVIR-Himalaya initiative. SERVIR connects space to villages by generating geospatial information, including Earth observation data from satellites, geographic information systems, and predictive models useful to developing countries.

The event is an international mass collaboration focused on space exploration that takes place over 48-hours in cities around the world. The event embraces collaborative problem solving with a goal of producing relevant open-source solutions to address global needs applicable to both life on Earth and life in space.

According to the organisers, this year there are over 25 challenges in four areas: Earth, Outer Space... read more

Publishing Date: 10/04/2015
2014 Regional Winner Valencian Community (Spain) focused on a system for investigating the cause and origin of forest fires (Image: John McColgan)

The European Satellite Navigation Competition is awarding the best services, products, or business innovations using satellite navigation in everyday life.

The aim of the annual award is to provide support to entrepreneurs, start-ups, students, and all participants to get their business off the ground.

This international contest is promoted by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) stakeholders, such as the European GNSS Agency (GSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) in association with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). In addition, regional partners worldwide host a regional challenge and provide valuable support.

This year's prize pool is worth EUR 1 million, including... read more

Publishing Date: 03/04/2015
Vegetation in savannas and shrublands helps to offset global deforestation (Image: CT Cooper)

A recent satellite-based study published in Nature Climate Change shows the world is becoming greener despite the high deforestation of some regions.

The researchers have found that a new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia, together with recovered forests outside the tropics, is helping to balance the ongoing deforestation in areas such as South America and Southeast Asia.

The research has been developed using a new technique called “passive microwave remote sensing”. It allows to map changes in vegetation biomass using satellite measurements of changes in the radio-frequency radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface, as the authors explained in The Conversation.

The information collected from satellites has been merged into one... read more

Publishing Date: 01/04/2015
First image from SMAP on Feb. 27/28, 2015 (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA's soil moisture mapper (SMAP) was launched on 31 January to map and detect global soil moisture. These maps will support the understanding of the interlinkages of Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles. The monitoring of SMAP will also promote weather and climate prediction as well as the monitoring of natural hazards.

First images of SMAP have now been made public. They demonstrate the ability of SMAP to provide comprehensive maps with a spinning instrument design. When fully operated, SMAP's antenna is able to cover the entire globe with high-resolution-data every two to three days with a 1,000 km swath from a altitude of 685 km above Earth.

Publishing Date: 13/03/2015

The Multi-sensor Evolution Analysis (MEA) platform supports Earth Observation communities in loading, visualizing and analysing multi-dimensional datasets. Implemented in the framework of the European Space Agency ASIM project, MEA has been recently adopted in the European Commission EarthServer initiative as graphic user interface of the Climate Data Service. MEA is a multi-product satellite data management and exploitation system that allows its users to access to a wide set of satellite-based data (e.g. vegetation indexes, soil moisture, precipitation) and display the temporal evolution of these fields to identify long term trends as well as short term / abrupt changes. The global coverage as well as... read more

Publishing Date: 19/11/2013
The map depicts climate change-induced migration.

MyReadingMapped is a website providing interactive maps on historic events and other interesting facts using Google Earth, for example shipwrecks locations, environmental disasters or oceanic trenches and underwater phenomena. Now, they have launched a series of climate change maps including one called "The rise, fall, and migration... read more

Publishing Date: 30/09/2013

The International Journal of Image and Data Fusion (IJIDF) is calling for papers for their new special issue on Natural Disasters. Image and data fusion plays an important role in natural disaster prediction and assessment. The use of multisource data at various levels improves the availability and quality of information derived. Especially in the case of natural distasters it is important not to be limited to one data source alone in order to provide up-to-date, accurate and timely information at various scales.

Authors are invited to submit papers on any topic related to the Aims and Scope of IJIDF that are related to the topic of NATURAL DISASTERS. Papers on how to use image and data fusion techniques for detecting, observing, monitoring, mapping, of the many types of Natural Disasters such as: volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, Hurricanes/cyclones, landslides, tsunamis, storm surges, desertification, etc. Authors are invited to submit their original research... read more

Publishing Date: 13/06/2013

ESRI announces that its popular Web mapping APIs (Javascript, Flex and Silverlight) are available at no cost to users who are building non-commercial applications. Until now only available to licensed users, UN agencies, NGOs, and educational institutions now can take advantage of fast, high-quality mapping applications built on top of ArcGIS Server for no additional cost.

For further information, please visit:

Publishing Date: 03/09/2009

The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) today signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) concerning Mutual cooperation for satellite disaster monitoring.

In this LOI, both parties acknowledged the necessity to promote satellite application, especially Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites, as well as related applied research, and to pursue such activities in an international manner.

For further information, please check:

Publishing Date: 24/08/2009

Longmont, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe ( is a leading global provider of commercial high-resolution earth imagery products and services. Recently DigitalGlobe announced its Crisis Event Service, a new web service providing timely and accurate pre- and post-event satellite imagery to aid in emergency planning, response and recovery.

The new online service is designed to provide a comprehensive picture for global crisis including at least three high-resolution imagery versions of each affected area: the most current pre-event imagery, imagery during or just after the event, and a follow-up image within 30 days following the event. Crisis Service images will be available online within one to three days of any given event through DigitalGlobe’s online platform. DigitalGlobe will determine events included in the Service based on definitions set by the International Charter of Space and Major Disasters. (Source:... read more

Publishing Date: 10/08/2009

Planet Action provides satellite imagery, geographic information and technology support to local projects that investigate and assess climate change issues focusing on human issues, drought & desertification, water resources, forestry, biodiversity, oceans, ice, and awareness.

This year, Planet Action will support additional projects while following up on current projects and their results on the ground. Join them in fighting the climate crisis!
Project submission deadline: September 30, 2009

For more information visit:

Publishing Date: 31/07/2009

The Second Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction took place in Geneva on 15-19 June 2009. At the session, UN-SPIDER culminated its year-long effort towards the establishment of the “SPIDER Global Thematic Partnership”. This partnership will serve as a forum to facilitate networking among the global community of practitioners involved in space-based information and services to support disaster risk management. UN-SPIDER is launching this Global Thematic Partnership as an effort to facilitate the access to space-based information for disaster reduction, in line with efforts conducted by ISDR, in particular to support national and regional platforms in their activities regarding disaster risk reduction. If your institution is interested in joining this Partnership please contact Mr. Juan Carlos Villagran (E-mail: juan-carlos.villagran [at]
For more information >>


Publishing Date: 19/06/2009


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