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Landsat Satellites catch deforestation red handed

Illegal deforestation can no longer remain hidden

The World’s forests are shrinking at an alarming and uncontrollable rate. There are of course a wide rage of causes ranging from cleared land for farming and ranching to mining and timber cultivation. Many of these take place within the some times thin and dotted boundaries of local and international law, but there are so many that slip past and go unseen. Thanks to the ever advancing technology of remote sensing these areas of illegal deforestation are slowly emerging out of the fog of corruption and ignorance.

Below images show a section of the Amazon forest near Tamshiyacu in Peru being illegally cleared for Palm Oil plantation. Many areas of the Amazon basin are completely cleared each year to make room for Palm, Soya and other plantations destroying entire ecosystems and endangering the survival of many plant and animal species, some of which have not yet been formally discovered.

The Palm trees planted are by no means a viable replacement for the natural habitat lost to hundreds of species and after cultivation Soya plantations just expand having depleted all the nutrients in the ground making the land completely useless. There are ways to make the land fertile again after the plantations have moved on but at great costs.

 

Scantherma_tamshiyacu_2012

Tamshiyacu Peru showing the Amazon River on the left of the image. Landsat Image acquired October 5, 2012.

Scantherma_tamshiyacu_oil_2013

The same area as above showing the massive deforested area to the right. This area has been cleared to make way for an Oil Palm plantation. Landsat Image acquired August 28, 2013.

The Palm Oil industry has already left a great scar on the face of some of Earths most important and diverse rain-forests in Malaysia and Indonesia. Now the Palm Oil boom has started in Brazil and with carefully controlled sustainable cultivation it can greatly benefit the local industry and people as it should. If planted on the degraded pasture land that is becoming increasingly plentiful, oil palm could generate more jobs and higher incomes for locals than the dominant form of land use in the region: low intensity cattle ranching. Rather than destroying more rain-forest for more cattle pasture, local farmers could go into the oil palm business and benefit from its higher returns.

In the end education is key. Teaching the local peoples of affected countries how best to utilize the resources of their lands to prosper and advance, at the same time safe keeping it for future generations.

To find out more about Scantherma’s remote sensing services and how it can help your project please go here.

Landsat 8. Seeing the world change

The Earth is constantly changing and never before were we able to see it in such detail. For the past 4 decades the Landsat mission has been giving us invaluable Earth imagery. Now with Landsat 8 (formally Landsat Data Continuity Mission) images are streaming back to earth in greater detail and resolution.

Below are some examples of the vast amount of satellite imagery that can be found on the USGS website.

Scantherma Landsat8 lake Urmia_Small

Lake Urmia receding over time. Images were taken by Landsat 5 and Landsat 8, courtesy of NASA and USGS.

Scantherma Landsat8 Bahr al Milh_Small

Lake Bahr al Milh receding over time. Images were taken by Landsat 5, Landsat 7 and Landsat 8, courtesy of NASA and USGS.

Scantherma Landsat8 Cambodia Flooding_Small

View of the 2013 Flooding in Cambodia. Images were taken by Landsat 8, courtesy of NASA and USGS.

Scantherma Landsat8 Grand Canyon_Small

View of the the water level on Lake Mead in 2013. Images were taken by Landsat 8, courtesy of NASA and USGS.

Scantherma Landsat8 Mississippi Flooding_Small

View of the 2013 Mississippi River Floods subsiding. Images were taken by Landsat 8, courtesy of NASA and USGS.

Landsat 8 officially started operating May 2013 when the satellites operations was transferred from NASA to USGS (United States Geological Survey). Along with this hand over the name of the mission was changed from Landsat Data Continuity Mission to Landsat 8. The USGS now manages the satellite flight operations team within the Mission Operations Center, which remains located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Find the above and many more images taken by the Landsat mission satellites at high-resolution at http://landsat.usgs.gov/gallery_view.php?category=nocategory&thesort=pictureId

 If you’re after satellite imagery for commercial use Scantherma has high grade acquisition and image processing services. Images can be sourced from any commercial satellite, such as Landsat mission satellites and we can cater for most budgets with quick turn around. Visit the Remote Sensing section of the Scantherma website for more information.

Landsat 8 Sensors

Landsat 8 launched in February will orbit the Earth fourteen times a day, following the same sequence of ground tracks as Landsat 4, 5 and 7. This allows data to be produced in the same WRS-2 path and row grid system, but collecting 150 more scenes per day than Landsat 7. This greatly increases the possibility of obtaining cloud-free satellite imagery. Although it has been built around a design life of 5 years, it was launched with enough fuel to keep it in orbit and operational for over 10 years. The Landsat satellite has 2 main imaging systems on board. The Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS)  and the Operational Land Imager (OLI).

The failure of the Scan-Line Corrector on Landsat 7 has driven the change from a whiskbroom to a pushbroom sensor for the OLI (image 1)on Landsat8. This brings it into line with most other modern satellite systems. Besides this major design change, the other specifications of the OLI are very similar to the Landsat TM and ETM+ sensors.

Imagery will be collected at a resolution of 30m for multispectral data and 15m for panchromatic data with a swath width of 185km. It will include all spectral bands used by Landsat TM and ETM+ along with two extra bands. One is a shorter wavelength blue band designed for aerosol remote sensing and monitoring coastal water quality. The other is a SWIR band designed for monitoring cirrus clouds.

The TIRS instrument (image 2) has also remained similar to its predecessors on Landsat TM and ETM+. The only upgrade being that now the single thermal band is split in two providing measurements at a spatial resolution of 100m.

Image1: The OLI Instrument:  To help calibrate the system the left hand opening will be aligned with the Earth and the right with the Sun.

Image1: The OLI Instrument:
To help calibrate the system the left hand opening will be aligned with the Earth and the right with the Sun.

 

Image2: Landsat 8 TIRS:   (Thermal Infrared Sensor) Instrument. The second of Landsat 8's two sensors.

Image2: Landsat 8 TIRS:

(Thermal Infrared Sensor) Instrument. The second of Landsat 8’s two sensors.

Image 3:  Landsat 8 at Orbital Science Corp.

Image 3:
Landsat 8 at Orbital Science Corp.

Image 4:  Landsat 8 Imagery is taken at different wavelengths and then combined to give the final image. Different terrain features can be seen based on the combination of the different colour layers.

Image 4:
Landsat 8 Imagery is taken at different wavelengths and then combined to give the final image. Different terrain features can be seen based on the combination of the different colour layers.

Landsat Data Continuity Mission Launched

On February 11th 2013 the Landsat Earth Observation Mission was extended with the launch of the Landsat Continuity Mission on an Atlas V rocket. Once the satellite is in position and operational it will be renamed to Landsat 8. It will be the seventh satellite in the “Landsat” series which started with Landsat 7 (Originally called Earth Resources Technology Satellite)  launched in 1972.

Landsat has made contributions to the scientific community commercial sectors in a range of ways that include agriculture, ecology, water resources, natural hazards, deforestation, spread of disease,  web-mapping and many others.

Aside from all the scientific applications Landsat data has, it has also led to the discovery of  hidden archaeological sites, new lands, features and even species on the Earth’s surface. For example a never before recorded reef was discovered in the Indian Ocean and an island off the coast of Labrador, Canada. In tribute to it’s discoverer, the island was named Landsat island.

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Atlas V rocket lifting off with the Landsat_Data_Continuity_Mission (Landsat 8) satellite on board.

Landsat 8 satellite sitting inside its protective housing that will be mounted atop the Atlas V rocket.

Landsat 8 satellite sitting inside its protective housing that will be mounted atop the Atlas V rocket.