Feeds

Scientist seeks smartphone snappers to scrub satellite searches

Take a snap, get a free photo from space

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison's Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) have come up with a novel idea for augmenting weather satellite coverage.

SSEC has its own weather satellite in orbit, the Suomi NPP, and works in conjunction with NASA to use data from the agency's Terra and Aqua satellites. But while the satellites are good at spotting cloud cover, they do occasionally have problems distinguishing between cloud and landscapes covered with snow and other bright surfaces.

SSEC satellite researcher Liam Gumley told The Register that the analysis software is designed to determine what terrain its cameras are travelling over, and decide if it is looking at clouds or the landscape. But, he said, with so many smartphones in existence there was an opportunity for citizen scientists to make a difference.

So the team developed the SatCam application for iOS users. People running the app will receive an alert when a satellite is overhead. They then take a picture straight up, with another picture of the horizon for positioning purposes, and the data is sent to the SSEC for analysis.

As an incentive to users, if they submit images the SSEC will send them the image that the satellite took as it was overhead.

"You're not going to be able to see yourself in them – our pixel size is 250 meters in diameter," Gumley said. "These are medium-resolution satellites, so catching individuals, cars, or boats isn't an option."

So far the application has brought in over 6,000 images from smartphone users, Gumley said, and the data has been very useful. He's now seeking funding to get an Android version of SatCam out to widen the pool of potential pictures. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Software bug caught Galileo sats in landslide, no escape from reality
Life had just begun, code error means Russia's gone and thrown it all away
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
prev story

Whitepapers

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup
Learn why inSync received the highest overall rating from Druva and is the top choice for the mobile workforce.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.