Earth observation is not a newfound concept. Ever since the advent of space technology, the sector has snowballed with the help of remote sensing, ushering in innovations frequently. However, it isn’t easy to know anything about the satellite platform system or its functions for Earth observation if we don’t know some basics like the spaceborne camera or the spaceborne radar on satellites. Let’s dig deeper into such topics in this article.
Cameras on Satellite Platform
Before jumping straight to camera sensors, let us understand the rudimentary function of satellite platforms. You must already know that Earth is a complex planet with numerous processes taking place at the same time and countless geographical differences and distributions.
But how do we observe and comprehend these processes? Through satellite cameras! Satellite cameras monitor changes in real-time, which helps us gather accurate data about the processes taking place on the Earth’s surface.
Today, the Earth’s orbit is surrounded by space technologies with sensitive measuring devices that observe the planet. These satellites circle our globe to gather data and then send the data back to stations on Earth. They either work alone or in a group and offer a worldwide perspective. This helps us conserve our environment, promote sustainable development, and address humanitarian emergencies.
Satellite Imagery: Types
The satellite camera imagery type ultimately depends on the procedure used to capture the image and heavily relies on the kind of space mission. EO satellite platforms use remote sensing technology to monitor the biological, chemical, and physical changes on the Earth’s surface. These satellites are further divided into two kinds. Let us learn about the different types of satellite cameras:
The first kind of EO satellite is the passive sensor. These remote sensing tools can measure energy naturally. Earth’s surface reflects radiation, and the sensors detect and gather the data. Most importantly, these sensors pick up electromagnetic emissions. The electromagnetic emissions can originate from two places, reflected sunlight or thermal radiation.
When it comes to remote sensing systems, the Sun is a very important energy source. This energy can be absorbed and emitted again or get reflected. The former results in thermal infrared wavelengths, whereas the latter in visible wavelengths. As a result, this kind of imagery or sensing largely depends on day-night rotation.
As opposed to passive sensing, active sensors have their source of energy instead of the Sun. Rather than depending on an external light source, these sensors project their own light beams in the Earth’s direction and gather the reflected data.
With the help of this technology, these sensors can gather measurements anytime since they do not have to rely on the day-night cycle. The best part is that these sensors can study wavelengths such as microwaves, which are not emitted by the Sun.
Most importantly, an active satellite platform can target better with proper and accurate illumination. But, it is understandable that these systems use far more energy when compared to passive sensing, which raises a problem.
Spaceborne Cameras on Satellite Platforms Are Key to Remote Sensing: Here’s How They Help
We have already briefly talked about remote sensing systems. But how does spaceborne camera work? The word we need to emphasize here is “remote” because these sensors collect information about the Earth’s surface from a distance and produce images that are much different from ordinary images. These sensors are equipped with a special localized spaceborne camera that captures specialized pictures informing us about the various phenomena occurring on Earth.
These cameras do not just click pictures of the surface. Some of these sensors are equipped with sonar systems, capturing pictures of the ocean’s bottom without needing to travel down. These were just some of the functions of these cameras. But why are satellite platforms useful, and how do they help us from a global perspective — when coupled with spaceborne cameras?
1. They Improve Agriculture
The importance of agriculture is not talked about enough. Our planet’s entire food supply depends on it. However, it’s a vulnerable sector that often faces challenges such as weather conditions, water unavailability, soil conditions, and much more. Space technology can help with these problems.
Such technology can monitor crop and soil development and provide the necessary information to enhance it. Moreover, these satellites also provide information on climate changes and rainfall patterns which are of great value to farmers and food manufacturers.
2. They Save Wildlife
Conservation of animals is fast becoming an essential issue for our planet. Thankfully, technologies like these help us to monitor wildlife and track its activities to take the necessary actions. Problems like deforestation and poaching abound in these regions, and with the help of accurate data, crimes like these have been mitigated.
Furthermore, space technology also helps to track animal migration, endangered animals, and mapping habitats. This has helped animal experts and conservationists to know more in detail about the living patterns of these animals and address emergencies if needed.
3. They Help Tackle Disaster Management
Satellite platforms also greatly help with disaster recovery. Cameras and sensors help in identifying hazard regions and providing warnings of disasters beforehand. With the help of such data, emergency responders can make immediate decisions and help the public. Moreover, this information can be shared on the web so the entire world can access it.
4. They Assist in Population Growth
The planet’s population is rising in huge numbers, especially in metropolitan areas. People migrate to urbanized places to attain a better standard of living. However, this leads to unequal population distribution and pressures on the land. Additionally, a higher population can lead to the exploitation of natural resources.
But, how can these challenges be monitored? With satellites! They help monitor population patterns and how people migrate from one place to another. Policymakers and administrators can then use such data to manage the population better or develop policies to help reduce it.
5. They Help Monitor Urban Geography
As already mentioned, the population is increasing, and so is the expansion of regions to accommodate this growing population adequately. With the help of satellite platforms scientists can identify urban change, land use, and land cover distribution. The repetitive coverage helps study these urban areas and provides better opportunities for impact assessment.
It is no doubt that satellites have been a phenomenal invention that has helped humankind in countless ways. Satellite imagery continues to equip us with the necessary information to make better decisions regarding saving our planet and ensuring its future.
Suman(Kul Prasad) Pandit is a graduate from Tribhuvan University with four-year experience in corporate and start-up sectors in UK and USA. Being a responsible & sustainable business enthusiast he is dedicated to business education to solve problems in entrepreneurship and business growth.