Feeds

Scientist seeks smartphone snappers to scrub satellite searches

Take a snap, get a free photo from space

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.