A new UN-SPIDER newsletter is now available. The latest issue focuses on the use of Earth observation for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. 2015 is a milestone year for the United Nations. Not only is the organization celebrating its 70 years of existence, the year is also the starting point for major agreements and frameworks that will shape global sustainable development in the years to come. Nations worldwide will jointly embark on new paths to end poverty, promote prosperity and well-being for all, protect the environment, address... read more

Publishing Date: 04/06/2015
Screenshot from OpenArialMap

The OpenAerialMap project was started by Humanitarian Open Street Map earlier this year with the goal to improve rapid access to aerial imagery for disaster mapping and humanitarian response. Now, a beta version was released.

Delivering useful imagery to decision makers, mappers and responders still needs its time, like it was illustrated during the recent Nepal earthquake. Now, the OpenAerialMap offers users a simple interface to find, browse, filter and review available data.... read more

Publishing Date: 03/06/2015
The IWG-SEM is a voluntary group of organizations involved in satellite based emergency mapping which supports disaster response

UNOOSA took up the annually rotating position of official Chair of the International Working Group on Satellite based Emergency Mapping (IWG-SEM) at the Group's meeting today in Bonn, Germany.

The IWG-SEM is a voluntary group of organizations involved in satellite based emergency mapping which supports disaster... read more

Publishing Date: 29/05/2015
130 international experts convened in Bonn to discuss the benefits of Earth observation for sustainable development (Image: DLR/Timm Bourry)

On 28 May 2015, UNOOSA and its co-organizers, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), successfully concluded the three day United Nations/Germany International Conference on Earth observation in Bonn, Germany. The conference was kindly supported by Secure World Foundation, the City of Bonn and Digital Globe.

Under the theme of "Global Solutions for the Challenges of Sustainable Development in Societies at Risk", approximately 120 experts and participants from more than 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean convened in Bonn... read more

Publishing Date: 29/05/2015
UNOOSA director Simonetta Di Pippo highlighted the role of satellite data in disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.

The United Nations/Germany International Conference on Earth Observation: Global Solutions for the Challenges of Sustainable Development in Societies at Risk was opening today in Bonn, Germany. The three-day event is bringing together 130 experts and participants from more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss the benefits of Earth Observation for sustainable development. The issues discussed include the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2015 climate change agreement. The conference is... read more

Publishing Date: 26/05/2015
A strong health sector is needed to improve people's resilience to disasters (Image: FEMA/Andrea Booher)

The need of a close relation between disaster risk reduction and the health sector has been highlighted at the 68th World Health Assembly on the basis of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

“The Sendai Framework is an opportunity for countries to shift their focus from managing disasters to managing risks which requires a better understanding of risk in all its dimensions of and exposure, a key priority for disaster risk reduction over the next fifteen years. […] The health status of disaster-exposed populations is central to the achievement of the overall goal of the Framework of achieving a substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health,” stated Ms. Chadia Wannous, UNISDR’s health focal point.

She stressed the importance of building stronger cooperation between health... read more

Publishing Date: 22/05/2015
High-resolution global soil moisture map from SMAP (Image: NASA)

NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission has begun science operations. SMAP investigates global soil moisture and detect whether soils are frozen or thawed. This information help scientist understand links among Earth’s water, energy and carbon cycles. In addition, map global soil moisture can help to monitor and predict natural hazards like floods and droughts.

"Fourteen years after the concept for a NASA mission to map global soil moisture was first proposed, SMAP now has formally transitioned to routine science operations," said Kent Kellogg, SMAP project manager at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "SMAP's science team can now begin the important task of calibrating the observatory's science data products to ensure SMAP is meeting its requirements for measurement... read more

Publishing Date: 20/05/2015
The first wave of January 2010 El Nino storms (Image: USNRL)

Australia's Bureau of Meteorology predicted that at the end of this year a strong El Nino effect can bring extreme weather around the world. Computer models based on satellite and meteorological observation data made this prediction.

An El Nino comes along about every two to seven years as part of a natural cycle. It is a warming of the Pacific Ocean as part of a complex cycle linking atmosphere and ocean.

To predict an El Nino scientist designed complex computer models that are fed with satellite and meteorological observation data as well as information about the... read more

Publishing Date: 18/05/2015
Decades of satellite images show: Earth is a cloudy place (Image: NASA)

Satellite-based Earth observation as well as images taken by astronauts show that Earth views from space are dominated by clouds. A recent study by NASA has looked at a decade of imagery and estimates that about 67 percent of Earth’s surface is typically covered by clouds.

NASA writes: "Earth’s cloudy nature is unmistakable in this global cloud fraction map, based on data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging... read more

Publishing Date: 15/05/2015
Flood affected areas will suffer under the loss of rain fall satellites (Image: United States Marine Corps)

Currently, there are 10 satellites dedicated to monitoring rainfall, but soon this number is likely to fall: four satellites have already passed their design life and others will follow soon. This will strongly affect flood management globally, shows a study published at Environmental Research Letter.

Space-based rainfall observation give high-value opportunities for globally coordinated data services regarding rainfall and resulted floods. Rainfall satellite data provides a good understanding of high-intensity events like monsoon rains, meaning that flood warnings could be communicated and... read more

Publishing Date: 08/05/2015
The new Cube+ makes it easier evaluate satellite imagery (Image: NASA)

Ecometrica announced the delivery of the new Cube+. The combination of software and customised cloud computing hardware allows sequential images taken by satellites to be built up layer upon layer, quickly and efficiently, to provide a much more detailed, and in-depth answers to complex queries about changes to agriculture, forests, coasts and urban areas.

The new technology allows government departments and firms to analyse complex data from satellites without the need for supercomputers for the first time. I will provide a more powerful service than those currently available using supercomputers, at around a tenth of the cost.

"This new Ecometrica technology component will allow businesses to efficiently process complex time-space data queries across the globe. It brings complex information retrieval tasks on... read more

Publishing Date: 08/05/2015
Results from the AlpTomoSAR field campaign in Austria supporting the development of Saocom-CS (Image: ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Argeninian Space Agency (CONAE) are collaborating to make 3D observations from space using two radar satellites in tandem.

ESA reported: “Following an offer from the Argentinian space agency, Conae, it is one of first ‘small satellite’ concepts to be studied by ESA. The idea is to build a companion satellite for Conae’s Saocom-1b, which is envisaged for launch in 2018–19 and use the satellites together. Saocom-1b will carry an L-band synthetic... read more

Publishing Date: 30/04/2015
Beidou's coverage now, by 2020 it will expand to worldwide coverage (Image: NASA)

The Beidou satellite navigation system will be fully operational worldwide by 2020, said Li Jian, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The system has been successfully tested in the general aviation sector, which includes all civil aviation operations other than scheduled air services, as well as by general aircraft including helicopters and private jets.

"We are promoting the Beidou system up to the standards of International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO], and will gradually apply it to carriers," Li said

Publishing Date: 29/04/2015
The Land-Potential Knowledge System Application was launched at RCMRD (Image: RCMRD)

The Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) Project released two mobile applications launched at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi on 22 April 2015 - one of UN-SPIDER's Regional Support Offices in Africa.

After one and a half years of design, development and testing, two of the LandPKS ( mobile applications (LandInfo & LandCover) can now be accessed on Google Play. These innovative mobile data collection and analysis tools support local land management and land use planning to optimize... read more

Publishing Date: 28/04/2015
WorldDEM is based on data acquired by the high-resolution radar satellites TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X (Image: DLR)

Airbus Defence and Space has officially launched its Digital Terrain Model (DTM) based on WorldDEM which is now commercially available. This highly accurate standardized representation of bare Earth elevation can be made available for any point on the globe, and with that addition Airbus Defence and Space can provide both surface as well as terrain elevation information. With that WorldDEM also provides the first global, single-source, high-precision Digital Surface Model and has established a new standard of global elevation models.

... read more

Publishing Date: 27/04/2015
Space-based monitoring helps track changes on large scales (Image: NASA)

Based on the findings of a scientific review of the draft SDGs, the experts have presented in the International weekly journal of science, Nature, five main priorities they recommend the scientific community to follow. These are: Devise metrics, establish monitoring mechanisms, evaluate progress, enhance infrastructure and standardize and verify data.

Within the priority of enhancing infrastructure, Earth observation and space-based monitoring play an important role. Together with on-the-ground observation, they could help track changes on large scales in natural-resource availability, landscape patterns and management, and social structure.

The authors also emphasize on the... read more

Publishing Date: 27/04/2015
Moving out on Landsat 9 is a high priority for NASA and USGS (Image: NASA)

NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have started work on Landsat 9, planned to launch in 2023, to continue the observing programme of Earth’s land cover. Since 1972 one of the eight satellites in the Landsat program has photographed the entire Earth every 16 days and provide accurate measurements of Earth’s surface.  

With this big data, derived from decades of observations, scientists can for example tease out changes in ecosystems like deforestation in South America, the effects of climate change and many... read more

Publishing Date: 24/04/2015
Daily image acquisitions by Landsat satellites from 2000 to 2014, with a clear increase during last year. (Image: NASA)

The technological improvements of the past decade have brought into scene a faster and more efficient way of working with Landsat satellite data.

Scientists and students can now spend more time analysing and evaluating instead of compiling and sorting data from satellites. The modernization of the remote sensing research process has occurred thanks to two main factors: the growth of computing power and the public and free availability of Landsat archives from 2009.

The Landsat record provides the longest continuous view of Earth’s landscape from Space, with at least one image of every location on... read more

Publishing Date: 22/04/2015
The GLOBE Programme helps pupils and students make connections between their local environment and the entire Earth system (Imagine: NASA)

Tomorrow, on Earth Day, April 22, NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) celebrate 20 years of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) programme. This science and education programme make it possible that students, teachers and scientist work together and participate in science data collection through hands-on science in their local communities.

Since its inception on Earth Day 1995, 114 countries, 28,000 schools and over 10 million students have participated in the GLOBE Programme.

Experience has shown that getting students involved in the project-based investigations encourages them to make connections between their local environment and the entire Earth... read more

Publishing Date: 21/04/2015
BaseVue 2013 uses Landsat 8 scenes ranging from April 2013 to June 2014. This one was captured by Landsat 8 in March 2014 (Image: NASA)

The Esri Landscape Content has announced the integration of the BaseVue 2013 land cover data into the Living Atlas of the World and on the ArcGIS Online content.

BaseVue 2013 is a commercial global product developed by MDA, covering the Earth’s... read more

Publishing Date: 21/04/2015
Forest observed through satellite imagery (Image: NASA/GSFC)

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has signed a partnership agreement with Norway in order to help developing countries assess their forest resources and changes.

Through access to Earth observation data sources and the development of an easy-to-use platform for processing and interpreting this data, the countries will be able to better monitor and report about their forest situation.

"The new platform offers countries a set of efficient tools for monitoring changes in their forest area and carbon stocks, and for developing sustainable forest management regimes", said Eduardo Rojas-Briales, Assistant Director-General of FAO's Forestry Department.

Aware... read more

Publishing Date: 20/04/2015
Awesome prizes go to the Copernicus Masters winner 2015 (Image: ESA)

The European Space Agency ESA announced that the Copernicus Masters competition is now open again to accept submissions. Entrepreneurs can submit their ideas for services, business concepts and applications based on satellite Earth observation data.

In its fifth year, ESA and Germany’s Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen are organising this competition to aid entrepreneurs in bringing their innovations to the market. In addition to over €300 000 in cash prizes the winner gets support in bringing the winning idea to market,... read more

Publishing Date: 16/04/2015
Smartphones can detect ground motion and warn others before strong shaking arrives (Image: NASA/Emiliano Rodriguez Nuesch)

A study led by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has shown smartphones and other personal electronic devices could be used as early warning systems for large earthquakes.

This technology would be especially useful for regions that cannot afford the high prices of conventional early warning systems. Despite being less accurate than scientific-grade equipment, the GPS (Global Positioning System) receivers in a smartphone can detect the permanent ground movement caused by fault motion in a large earthquake, according to USGS.

Crowdsourced observations from participating users are an essential part of the earthquake warning system. “Crowdsourced data are less precise, but for larger... read more

Publishing Date: 15/04/2015
Launch of satellite Transit 1B, April 13 1960 (Image: US Navy)

13 April 2015 was the 55th anniversary of the first navigation system reaching the orbit. The Transit 1B satellite was launched by NASA on 13 April 1960.

This satellite was designed to provide positioning for the US Navy’s fleet of Polaris ballistic missile submarines, a task it performed for over 30 years, as Money Week informs.

The Transit system can be considered as the ancestor of the Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS is constantly providing updated digital maps and other essential tools for our... read more

Publishing Date: 14/04/2015
Super cyclone Maysak captured from the International Space Station

In late March 2015, Typhoon Maysak, known locally as Chedeng, approached the norther Philippines. Typhoon Maysak strengthened into a super typhoon on March 31, reaching Category 5 hurricane status.

Various space technologies captured the storm from Space. The RapidScat instrument aboard the International Space Station captured Maysak's sustained winds reaching 30 m/s around the center and north of center of the storm on 1 April.

The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and Global... read more

Publishing Date: 14/04/2015


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