Encompassing over 5 million square miles, the Antarctic continent is the world’s largest wilderness area and the only continent without a native human population on the Earth. Antarctica is currently claimed by seven nations, but 53 countries have signed the Antarctic Treaty System (ATC) since it opened for signature in 1959. This treaty sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishing freedom of scientific investigation and banning military activity on the continent. Thus, scientific research is the main activity in this frozen continent, and the population residing there is comprised mainly of scientific research staff.
The Antarctic continent, like the North Pole, is one of the regions in the world most affected by global warming. It is also an ideal location to study how the climate is changing, since it experiences the least amount of human influence. However, given Antarctica’s remoteness and extreme weather, monitoring this vast territory can be challenging and expensive.
Satellite imagery is a key tool for timely, reliable monitoring of remote areas with extreme weather, without the costs associated with having people on the ground. One company leading the field in the imaging of high-latitude territories such as Antarctica is Deimos Imaging, an UrtheCast company.
East View Geospatial (EVG) and Deimos Imaging recently performed a joint campaign for monitoring and change detection of research activity in Antarctica. Tasking the Deimos-2 satellite, EVG was able to monitor areas of known activity, including multiple research stations, at superior resolution.
Figure 1 shows the Larsemann Hills antarctic oasis on the shore of Prydz Bay, where three research stations are based: Russia’s Progress Station, Romania’s Law-Racoviță Station and China’s Zhongshan Station. This image was captured by Deimos-2 on December, 27, 2017.
Leveraging in-house analytic capabilities, EVG identified recent activity at the stations, as well as a suspected grounded DC-3 transport aircraft located not far from Russia’s Progress Station and China’s Zhongshan Station.