Feeds

Scientist seeks smartphone snappers to scrub satellite searches

Take a snap, get a free photo from space

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
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.