Feeds

Australia to publish live, free, satellite images

Landsat 8 images to hit the web under Creative Commons licence

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.