Feeds

Australia to publish live, free, satellite images

Landsat 8 images to hit the web under Creative Commons licence

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Australia will publish images captured by soon-to-launch satellite Landsat 8 online, in close to real time, for free.

Landsat 8 will launch in early 2013 and is expected to be fully operational by May or June of that year. Once the bird begins beaming back images, Geoscience Australia (GA) will publish them online under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence.

“We want to make as much data freely available as possible,” says Jeff Kingwell, the Section Leader of GA’s National Earth Observation Group. “We will move towards a system where we are taking Landsat data in, in near real time.” Data will be corrected to make it usable, then published, all in as close to real time as is practical.

The new service will be possible thanks to a new agreement between Australia and the USA that has seen Australia once again sign up as a formal partner in the Landsat program, which has sent seven satellites into orbit to capture images of earth. Australia provides ground stations for Landsat, in Hobart and Alice Springs, and will do so again for Landsat 8. A new Australian ground station, in Darwin, is under way and will allow capture of images of more locations.

There’s plenty of data to deal with, as Landsat’s orbit means is flies over Australia every day, sometimes three times a day.The images captured on each pass depict a 185km-wide strip of Australia.

Resolution is not massive – the Landsat Data Continuity Mission website says the new satellite will capture images at 15m-100m resolution – but the satellite and its predecessors were never intended to get close up. Instead, the satellites’ intended applications help all manner of industries to understand land use over time.

Kingwell says Landsat data is appreciated by those who conduct “broad acreage monitoring such as looking at deforestation, vegetation changes and urban expansion.” Their efforts will be assisted by GA’s decision to retrieve its ten-year-plus archive of Landsat images – estimated at half a petabyte - and make them available online. That longitudinal archive is expected to make long-term land use analysis easier.

Just how GA will pull off the delivery of live images is yet to be determined. Kingwell says the agency is making preparatory upgrades to connect to Landsat 8, but has not made any decisions about the web applications needed to deliver data to the public. The agency should, at least, have plenty of storage on hand to deal with the influx from Landsat: it tendered for a 50-petabyte rig a couple of years ago.

But storage won’t be the hard part, as the agency expects it will be deluged with requests for the images.

“The experience of the US Geological Survey when they moved to free to air service available online was that usage went up by a factor of 1000,” Kingwell told The Register.

GA has therefore commenced collaboration with Australia’s National Computational Infrastructure to get its hands on the grunt it will need to process incoming data.

GA has also famously undertaken an extensive re-platforming project for its data, so it can be more easily managed and accessed by the public. That effort has seen GA move some 400,000 older tapes onto IBM’s 3592 format over the last few years. Some older Landsat data will be re-platformed for the new archive. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.