Our Very-High Resolution Earth Observation (EO) satellite Deimos-2 is celebrating its third successful year in orbit, today! Deimos-2 was launched aboard a Dnepr rocket from Russia’s Yasny spaceport on June 19, 2014. Since then, it has turned around the Earth more than 16,000 times and captured over 180,000 valid images.
The range of services currently offered by Deimos-2 varies widely, from crop monitoring and emergency response, to humanitarian aid, civil engineering and intelligence applications, among many others. These are some examples of the usages of the data captured by Deimos-2:
Satellite imagery is a great tool to monitor and analyse agricultural fields. Deimos-2 multispectral capability makes it an easy-to-use and cost-effective tool to improve the efficiency of cultivation practices and to implement precision agriculture techniques. It can be used in a variety of applications such as drought assessment, crop management, and grazing management. Deimos Imaging has quickly become one of the leading sources of information for agricultural applications worldwide.
Every year, since 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), uses Deimos Imaging’s data to monitor the evolution of more than 100 types of crops nationwide, and to produce its annual 30-m Cropland Data Layers which classifies all types of crops in the USA. Deimos-2 is the perfect tool to obtain very high-resolution imagery for close analysis when anomalies are detected in a specific area. With its high spatial resolution, Deimos-2 data is used to precisely outline the affected areas and accurately determine the spatial variability. The image shows agricultural structures in Kansas, USA.
Disasters and emergency situations
Deimos-2 is operated through a 24/7 Emergency Service that assures the delivery of a processed image in less than 30 minutes from its acquisition. Thus, it can be of essential support in emergency situations and rescue operations, ensuring reliable delivery, which is key for coordination with local authorities, and offering high quality, accurate information, in an accessible and user-friendly format.
Deimos-2 provided images of Amatrice and its surroundings shortly after an earthquake struck central Italy on August 24, 2016, showing the damaged area. These were used during and after the earthquake to quickly map the zone quantifying the affected areas, estimating the damage and assisting the authorities in the implementation of rescue operations and recovery measures.
Satellite imagery also plays an increasingly important role in monitoring and measuring humanitarian crisis. It serves to support decision making and manage humanitarian aid and response through, for example, the monitorization of changes in refugee and internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps.
Deimos-2 data helped to detect the evolution of the refugee camp at Hammam Al-Alil, around 30 km south of Mosul, Iraq. The multitemporal analysis of Deimos-2 imagery provided reliable information to measure the camp’s growth and density over time, allowing to have an estimation of the population sheltered there. Accurate multitemporal analysis showed that the number of tents increased from 3,738 on February 19, 2017, to 8,136 on April 22, 2017. Given that, in average, 6 persons are accommodated in each tent, the amount of people hosted in the camp incremented from around 22.500 to almost 50.000 in just two months.
The very-high spatial resolution of Deimos-2 allows it to capture details at any targeted location to monitor specific operations or to gather information for various applications in Defense and Security, such as border surveillance and detecting potential illegal fishing activities. Deimos-2 has been monitoring the construction of facilities at the man-made islands in the South China Sea, capturing several images from 2015 to date. The data allowed to identify the developments of new buildings, many of them of military use, such as those seen in the image of Fiery Cross Reef, one of the reefs in the Spratly Islands, a territory disputed by China, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Urban planning and civil engineering
Geospatial technology is a valuable source of information to develop accurate and cost-effective topographic mapping, 3D modeling of buildings and digital elevation models (DEM) of cities for urban planning and civil engineering applications. The image shows a digital elevation model over Madrid, representing its terrain’s surface, developed from data acquired by Deimos-2.
This kind of information, extracted from accurate satellite imagery, is crucial for designers, surveyors, engineers and architects at every stage of a project. It improves decision making from the initial planning throughout the whole process. It allows designers and engineers to visualize and evaluate the impact on the surrounding environment, to work with much greater cost and quality control, and to easily test and adapt the designs to the client’s needs.
Deimos-2, has an off-nadir imaging ability, up to 45 degrees, that allows it to obtain single pass stereo imaging, vital for engineering applications such as 3D modeling and topographic mapping. Moreover, its high revisit time, allows Deimos-2 to monitor urban growth, surface movements and changes, supporting risk assessment and timely detection of undesired effects deriving from constructions.
The Earth Observation sector and its transformation
These are just a few examples of the utility of the data captured by Deimos-2. However, we are witnessing a significant transformation of the Earth Observation sector in the last years. It is moving from a market of “just pixels” into one where the extracted information derives products embedded into larger industries, delivering efficient tools for daily decision making.
Satellite imagery has never been as affordable and accessible as it is today. Easy-to-use value-added products and services with geoanalytics capabilities are significantly broadening the utility of Earth Observation data for both organizations and individuals.
Under this new paradigm, information derived from a constant flux of near-real time EO data could become as ubiquitous as satellite communication and GPS data today. We are on the verge of being able not only to observe, but to measure, human and natural activity on a global scale, every day: every city, every factory, every crop field, every tree, every truck, every ship… the possibilities are unprecedented.