A colleague pointed me to an announcement from the Environment News Service about how bottom trawling (an industrial fishing practice that scars the seafloor) is visible from space! Witness the above, a Landsat image taken off the coast of Louisiana (admittedly, in 1999, but there are many more images where that came from).
The images come from Skytruth, a non-profit organization that uses “remote sensing and digital mapping to educate the public and policymakers about the environmental consequences of human activities, and to hold corporations and governments to higher standards of accountability around the globe.” I saw a presentation by these folks at the International Symposium on Digital Earth, and in fact, I blogged about them at that time. Great work…
The above images come from Skytruth, a non-profit “using remote sensing and digital mapping to educate the public and policymakers about the environmental consequences of human activities.” On the top, you can see Wyoming’ Upper Green River Valley in 1986, and on the bottom, in 2005, after the construction of approximately 700 natural gas wells. The organization’s website offers more details on the particular events in Wyoming (and many, many other places on Earth), but the main point should be clear: data speaks!
I just saw a presentation by Skytruth’s founder, John Amos, at the International Symposium on Digital Earth. Blogging while he spoke… Hope he’s not offended.
Okay, I just returned to New York from San Francisco and immediately had to present a Virtual Universe program at the Hayden Planetarium, so I’m a little worn out. A cross-country flight, an hour or so of talking, plus dinner with friends has left me a tad exhausted.
Therefore, I’m simply going to react to the image above. Taken by an astronaut (nameless, but perhaps not a would-be kidnapper) and stunningly subtle and moving in its content and composition. At first glance, it looks like something done by a member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists, but no… It’s a photograph taken from orbit.
It almost doesn’t look right to me—seems like the shuttle would be higher up than that, field of view strikes me as too small, hard to imagine an astronaut keeping the camera still enough for such an exposure, etc. But the directness of the image manages to overcome all that. The knowledge that a human captured the image makes it intimate, somehow, and the unusual perspective makes it striking. I dunno, maybe I’m just tired, but this picture speaks volumes to me at the moment.
I stumbled across ESA’s MERIS Images RApid VIsualization (MIRAVI) page just today. “MERIS” stands for Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer, an instrument onboard Envisat that measures solar radiation reflected by the Earth in fifteen regions of the visible and near infrared spectrum; it images the entire surface of Earth every three days. The image above happens to have been the most recent image when I first glanced at the page: the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico as they appeared this morning (my time).
I like the interface to the data. A map on the right had side allows you to select what part of Earth you want to explore, searching for images of whatever part of the globe you zoom in on. Images appear on the left, and when you select one, its area appears in red on the global map. Nice, simple, straightforward. I love Google Earth, don’t get me wrong, but this interface to rapidly-updated data does a good, no-frills job.
I referenced this image in my Yahoo 360 blog, but it’s worth presenting again. Taken by the Cassini spacecraft (currently in orbit around Saturn), it shows Earth as a point of light viewed through Saturn’s rings. You can read more about the image on NASA’s Cassini page. As Carl Sagan wrote, regarding a similar image: “Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”