How satellites are being retasked to help the Haiti rescue mission.

[/caption]   I’ve taken a bit of a break from digital media blogging this week.  The jetlag from Vegas/CES and the fact the Haiti story is just so much more important than new TVs has led to me blogging about that disaster instead. One of the interesting things I’ve been reading about is the actual process by which satellites are being pulled into service (retasked) to assist in the rescue effort.  The BBC’s Space Reporter has an excellent piece about the efforts underway by the EU and other nations who are pulling in space resources to assist in the disaster.

Many space agencies have signed up to something called the International Charter [on] Space and Major Disasters. It was initiated back in 2000 by Esa, and the French (Cnes) and Canadian (CSA) space agencies; but then quickly acquired other signatories including important US bodies like Noaa and the US Geological Survey. The UK, too, is involved. It has a very particular contribution to make through the Guildford-based Disaster Monitoring Constellation company, which manages a six-strong fleet of optical and near-infrared imaging satellites that can – as a team – picture the entire Earth’s surface in one day. When the Charter is activated, the signatories re-task their satellites to get the data most urgently needed in a devastated region. The Charter was activated this week – of course it was.
  Be sure to take a look at all the pictures that have been not only generated, but also modified to show specific damage in neighborhoods, etc.   Geoeye, which works with Google, has also done some interesting ‘before and after’ type photos, matching up specific coordinates so people can see what things looked like before the earthquake and after.  By far the best use of this data is in today’s New York Times, which utilizes Flash to allow the user a house-by-house comparison of the two photos. MSNBC’s Cosmic blogger is also doing an interesting piece on satellites being retasked.  His story remarks about the worldwide collaboration that is going on:
GeoEye is by no means the only satellite operator on the case. A whole fleet of eyes in the sky are focusing on Haiti: DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1 andQuickBird. France’s Spot-5, Japan’s ALOS, the European Space Agency’s ERS-2 and Envisat, and Canada’s RadarSat-2.
The MSNBC piece also talks about some of the volunteer efforts underway to establish communications systems in Haiti.  One such agency is TSF–Telecom San Frontiers  who deployed a recovery team to Haiti already. Looking over the devastation I’m reminded of my own seawall.  It’s 100 feet long and surrounded by large boulders.  Every year I say I’m going to pull back the boulders closer to the seawall (the curl of the wave pulls them toward the sea) and every year I end up not doing it.  It’s just too massive of an effort to accomplish on my own. And now I look at what is going on in Haiti.  This is going to be more massive than we can even comprehend at this point.  The fleet that we have sent is nowhere large enough, and the plane bridge will not be able to keep up with the demand.  This is going to get much much worse in the next weeks and months before it gets better.]]>

2 thoughts on “How satellites are being retasked to help the Haiti rescue mission.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.