Historical And Real-Time Satellite Imagery Applications

The Earth’s surface, throughout its existence, has been changing under the influence of climatic conditions, natural phenomena, and human activities. Satellite imagery is the most effective way to keep track of events and changes on Earth at the current moment and over time. It is the most effective way to keep track of events and changes on Earth at the present moment and over time.

While real-time images provide an opportunity to observe events taking place on the planet’s surface at the moment, archives of historical images enable comparing the present and the past, as well as evaluating the changes that have occurred.

Singapore satellite imagery
The Republic of Singapore. Original from NASA. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel. CC0

Today, real-time and historical satellite images are available for download and online viewing in various commercial and free sources.

Real-Time and Historical Satellite Images

Satellite technology has developed and improved over time, allowing people to learn more about our planet and study its changes and the reasons for these changes. Improved designs and components have been developed that last longer, enabling satellites to stay in space longer.

Satellite launches have become commonplace, so images are available to users for any purpose. Upon request, users can obtain real-time images of the planet and analyze this data to assess current events. A satellite can be directed to collect data from a specific area and apply AI automation to detect changes and update maps.

Private and public organizations use satellite monitoring services for various applications. Important tasks carried out with this technology’s help are urban planning, monitoring utilities, agricultural mapping, and tracking climate change.

EOSDA LandViewer

EOSDA LandViewer, developed by EOS Data Analytics, a satellite data analytics company, is a platform for searching and on-the-fly processing of up-to-date and historical satellite imagery. Users of this product can find many valuable features to solve crucial business problems.

The EOSDA LandViewer service provides access to historical satellite imagery (since 1982) from various sources in a single catalog. Depending on the source, every imagery from the past has its own specifics so that this platform can cover the needs of many users.

In addition to satellite data, historical aerial datasets are available on the EOSDA LandViewer. Such images have a higher resolution compared to satellites and are suitable for tasks where a smaller area coverage is needed.

Unusual Application of Satellite Imagery

Space archaeology

The application of satellite historical imagery and aerial photography in archaeology is not, in itself, something innovative. One of the most time-consuming was the work with CORONA spyware snapshots. It was the first such program in history developed by the United States to obtain images from the hot spots of the Cold War. One of the main advantages of this program was its higher security compared to taking aerial photographs.

The CORONA satellite cameras provided many high-resolution images during the period 1967-1972. President Bill Clinton declassified images of the CORONA in 1995, which subsequently revealed many archaeological features in the Middle East. For example, a 4,500-year-old road network in northern Syria was opened this way. In Iraq, paleochannels of rivers and canals were also discovered thanks to these images.

Dr. Sarah Parcak is on a mission to uncover the hidden history of the world through satellite imagery. Being a TED Prize 2016 winner, she presents herself as a space archaeologist who seeks to uncover the hidden history of the world through satellite imagery. She searches satellite imagery for clues to sites of historical activity and relics.

Sarah launched the GlobalXplorer platform for amateur space archaeologists. This resource proposes a collective effort to identify millions of undiscovered ancient sites. Images in the visual and infrared spectrum are encouraged to study by research participants on this online platform to detect the study of changes in vegetation that may indicate buried artificial objects over time. Parcak plans to one day launch her own archeology-oriented satellite into orbit to make even more significant changes in modern archaeological research and the understanding of archaeology in general.

MyMurdo Dry Valleys  satellite imagery
The McMurdo Dry Valleys. This image was acquired December 8, 2002 by NASA’s Terra spacecraft. CC0

Impacts of human activities

Old satellite images provide information and insight into global issues. Glacier melt, water pollution, deforestation, and soil degradation due to human activity can be detected and controlled using space technology. Historical aerial or satellite images help to track the development of the problem and identify significant patterns.

Satellite data analytics, in combination with other technologies, including AI and machine learning, offer excellent opportunities to gain valuable insights. Thus, specialists get the chance to control deforestation, emissions, and the negative impact on biodiversity. Data can also help track climate and resource risks.

Tracking the cultural devastation of the war

In Ukraine, the UN uses satellite images to track the destruction inflicted by the Russian Federation on historical monuments, architecture, and art. Comparing before and after pictures taken by commercial companies, UNESCO and the United Nations Satellite Center are documenting the destruction of cultural sites. In the future, this will help prosecute those responsible for the ruining and assist Ukraine in its reconstruction efforts.

The list compiled by UNESCO already includes more than 200 damaged objects. Since February 24, Russia has been responsible for damaging or destroying religious sites, monuments, historical or artistic interest buildings, museums, and libraries.