Feeds

Australia to publish live, free, satellite images

Landsat 8 images to hit the web under Creative Commons licence

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
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.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
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.