Earth Observation and Science

Earth Observation Applications


High-Accuracy Mapping for Infrastructure and Urban Intelligence

High-resolution satellite imagery offers the ability to rapidly produce accurate mapping. Frequent updates to existing information and acquiring new mapping information offer benefits of continual and repeatable coverage, the ideal choice for accurate large area surveys for:
  • Assessing rainwater runoff, soil sealing and flood risk

  • Planning infrastructure and public services

  • Monitoring planning controls and identifying unplanned developments

  • Estimating population figures and growth


Urban mapping, China

Land Use Classification

Space data using all spectral bands enables the characterization of land into categories, which can be monitored for change detection, planning, and resource management.  

Area of Adelaide with various land cover types identified (2.5 m RGB image)
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Natural Resource Management

Natural resources can be scarce, unpredictable, difficult to locate, and difficult to manage, and are under ever increasing pressure. Significant economic, social, and environmental benefits can be realized by using satellite systems to help manage available natural resources and to help locate new sources.Satellite data can provide change detection, monitoring, and analysis of the following:

  • Coastlines and tidal plains
  • Sediments
  • Inland water resources
  • Wetlands
  • Glaciers, ice fields, and snow cover
  • Desert
  • Mining activities
  • Oil and gas operations
  • Forest species inventories
  • Burn scars
  • Geological structure and mineralization
 Inland water resources, Australia
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   Glacier extent change, Peru  



Data from satellites can improve revenue generation for agricultural applications by improving crop yields, reducing fertizer costs, monitoring pests, and providing irrigation and field boundary information. Agricultural management benefits from rapid revisit and wide area coverage.  

Agriculture, Italy   Agricultural Management
  • Precision farming
  • Crop classification and extent
  • Illicit crop detection
  • Yield prediction
  • Pest and blight tracking
  • Crop health and growth data sets
  • Drought monitoring
  • Fertiliser application maps
  • Irrigation planning and monitoring
  • Field boundary management
  • Storm damage assessment
Agricultural montoring, Italy
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Forestry Management

Wide area imagery from satellites is the most efficient way to accurately and regularly monitor vast areas of forest—the tropics alone make up half of Earth's land area, and many areas cannot be reached on foot. More than one billion people are dependent on forests for their livelihood, and forests also play a vital role in regulating our climate. High-resolution imagery can be used to complement wide-area lower resolution imagery.  

Satellite data can be used for:

  • De-forestation, re-forestation and afforestation tracking
  • Fire damage detection and burn scar mapping
  • Change detection
  • Supporting carbon modeling
  • Forest species inventory, stand density, and health evaluation
  • Mapping of conservation areas and land tenure boundaries
DeforestationBrazil, Bolivia borders
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Security and Surveillance

Heathrow Airport, London, UK
Heathrow Airport, London, U.K.
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Continuous coverage of wide areas, combined with high-resolution surveillance of specific locations, provides an invaluable source of strategic information to complement the resources available for security and surveillance applications.

  • Pipeline monitoring
  • Critical national infrastructure mapping
  • Transport network tracking
  • Operational support and mission planning
  • Analysis and monitoring of key sites and assets

Maritime Services

  • Ship detection and tracking
  • Maritime oil spill detection and monitoring
  • Ice warnings
  • Oil slick monitoring
  • Port traffic monitoring
  • Bathymetic data to measure beach erosion, sea levels, creation of nautical charts
  • Maritime piracy detection
 Singapore Harbour
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Disaster Monitoring

Disaster monitoring activities are undertaken by many nations and in particular by the Disaster Monitoring Constellation of satellites supplied by Surrey. Undertaken on behalf of society worldwide, this service provides an important source of humanitarian information as well as a framework for international collaboration.

Satellite data provides georeferenced regular snapshots, which can be used in conjuction with flood and soil models, digital elevation models, precipation data, and population statistics to produce a base map for emergency services in the event of flood, fire, drought, earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, tornado, and other natural and manmade disasters. Disaster information from satellites is rapidly available and accurate and is often the only overview available to guide and plan emergency assistance. 

California forest fires
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          Hurricane Katrina flooding
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Earth Intelligence and Analysis

  • Monitoring of flood extent, inland waterways, coastal zones, tidal plains, ice floes, glaciers, and lakes
  • Monitoring of mining activities and major subsidence  
  • Topographical mapping  
  • Identification and mapping of mineral deposits 
  • Land use classification  
Mine subsidence mapping, South Africa           Topographical mapping

Global Science and Environmental Monitoring 

 Iceberg calving in Greenland
Earth observation satellites can fly instruments to monitor and measure:
  • Weather
  • Glaciation
  • Pollution
  • Climate change
  • Space environment
  • Upper atmosphere and solar science
  • Lunar and planetary science
  • Earthquake prediction
  • Optical and gamma ray astronomy
  • Volcanic ash cloud extent
 Greenland iceberg calving
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