Feeds

Scientist seeks smartphone snappers to scrub satellite searches

Take a snap, get a free photo from space

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.