Last updated Sept. 20, 2017, 12:47 p.m.

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Open Copernicus Sentinel-2 data turned into a global cloudless mosaic

Guest blog post by Joachim Ungar, EOX IT Services, Austria

Alaska, USA, as shown on s2maps.eu – Credit: Sentinel-2 cloudless by EOX, CC BY 4.0 (contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2016 & 2017)

Our civilisation gathers more and more data about our planet and it gets increasingly challenging to make use of this huge amount of data. This results in scientists rather extracting and processing data on powerful servers than on their desktop PCs as they used to do since the 90s. EOX builds such server tools and web clients to facilitate the scientists’ work. It is an Austrian company dedicated to make Earth Observation data more accessible while developing and contributing to various Open Source Software projects.

One of the products EOX is building are background maps which are specifically designed to put data into their geographical context. These maps are free to use and available through standardised endpoints for geographic software.

Namib Desert, Namibia, as shown on s2maps.eu - Credit: EOX, CC BY 4.0

Brawley, California, USA, as shown on s2maps.eu – Credit: Sentinel-2 cloudless by EOX, CC BY 4.0 (contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2016 & 2017)

When ESA launched the first of the two Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites on behalf of the European Commission, it became the world’s best open dataset (from all datasets generating RGB images) in terms of spatial (10m) and temporal (<10 days) resolution. This spawned various projects from different companies and organisations to build tools on top of or generate products from this data.

The target of EOX was to create the first cloud- and seamless mosaic from this new dataset to be used as an additional background layer for its maps service. The project also helped to explore how to approach processing huge amounts of data using cloud computing and demonstrates EOX’ capabilities to handle such tasks. The Sentinel-2 cloudless project s2maps.eu not only builds exclusively on, but also contributes to various open source projects.

s2maps.eu - a cloudless Sentinel-2 map of Earth. Credit: EOX, CC BY 4.0

s2maps.eu – a cloudless Sentinel-2 map of Earth. Credit: Sentinel-2 cloudless by EOX, CC BY 4.0 (contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2016 & 2017)

The decision to make the results available to the general public under the very permissive Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License was therefore an easy one.

Open data and open source software have positive impacts on various parts of society:

  • First, it helps educating students in the respective fields as they can train their skills on real data with real, widely used tools without having to pay for both;
  • Second, it makes science more transparent as everybody can test and verify (or falsify) results when both data and software are openly available;
  • Third, it enables many smaller companies to build products and services on top of open data using open source software without huge entry costs;
  • Fourth, citizen scientists have access to both data and tools which also helps keeping the general public informed and included in important decisions.

The European Commission’s Copernicus programme in collaboration with ESA therefore helps improving various aspects of our lives by making this data open.

Joachim Ungar is Lead Cartographer at EOX.


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2017-09-20T12:47:51Z
Gaia mission Open Data to build the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way

Gaia is the name of the primal goddess of the Earth in greek mythology – but also an ambitious ESA mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. It’s primary objective is to survey one thousand million (one billion) stars in our Galaxy and its local galactic neighbourhood to build the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way and answer questions about its origin and evolution.

An all-sky view of stars in our Galaxy – the Milky Way – and neighbouring galaxies, based on data of the first year of observations from ESA’s Gaia satellite, from July 2014 to September 2015. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

An all-sky view of stars in our Galaxy – the Milky Way – and neighbouring galaxies, based on data of the first year of observations from ESA’s Gaia satellite, from July 2014 to September 2015. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

The mission’s secondary objectives reveal Gaia as the ultimate discovery machine. It is expected to find up to ten thousand planets beyond our Solar System and hundreds of thousands of asteroids and comets within it. The mission will also reveal tens of thousands of failed stars and supernovae, and will even test Einstein’s famous theory of General Relativity.

The Gaia Archive is hosted at ESA ESAC in Spain, operations and archiving centre for all of ESA’s planetary science and solar system (and beyond) exploration missions. It offers all data at

https://gea.esac.esa.int/archive/

Credit and citation instructions can be found here, more information on how to use the archive below. Also note the Visualisation tool.

 

 


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2017-08-29T07:35:09Z
Alexander Gerst’s Earth timelapses (2017 reissue)

This is a reissue of ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst’s highly popular Earth timelapses clip, originally published in December 2014. In line with ESA’s Open Access Policy, a new soundtrack has been added and both video and sound re-released under an Open Access compliant Creative Commons licence that allows anybody to broadly use, re-use, utilise and build upon it.

So, watch Earth through the perspective of Alexander Gerst in this six-minute timelapse video from space, accompanied by a new awe-inspiring soundtrack by Berlin-based electronic musician, creative technologist and TEDxESA collaborator Peter Kirn.

Download the hi-res 4K version on ESA Space in Videos

Combining 12 500 images taken by Alexander during his six-month Blue Dot mission on the International Space Station in 2014, this Ultra High Definition video shows the full beauty of our planet.

Marvel at the auroras, sunrises, clouds, stars, oceans, the Milky Way, the International Space Station, lightning, cities at night, spacecraft and the thin band of atmosphere that protects us from space.

Often while conducting scientific experiments or docking spacecraft Alexander would set cameras to automatically take pictures at regular intervals. Combining these images gives the timelapse effect seen in this video.

Alexander Gerst will return to the Space Station between May and December 2018 for his Horizons mission where he will fulfil the role of Commander for Expedition 57.

Follow Alexander Gerst via alexandergerst.esa.int

Credits

Video: ESA – European Space Agency 2017, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Music: “Anaxagoras” by Peter Kirn/Establishment Records, CC BY-SA 3.0


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2017-07-05T09:41:55Z
Copernicus Sentinel satellite imagery under open licence

We are very pleased to announce today the release of all high resolution Copernicus Sentinel satellite stills and animations processed by ESA under the Open Access compliant Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO licence. This allows this ever expanding set of imagery to be freely shared and used, e.g. on Wikipedia or, respectively, Wikimedia Commons, by the educational sector etc.

View and download here: Images & animated gifsVideos
(please note the search might include some images not licenced under CC)

Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date, headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), who develops, builds, flies and operates the Sentinel family of satellites and missions.

While this post concerns processed public images made available by ESA, please find further information on the free, full and open access to Copernicus Sentinel satellite data here.

More info on ESA’s Open Access Policy is available via the news release (20 February 2017), this site’s general introduction and the FAQ.

Bering Sea

This Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite image shows the Bering Sea, north of the Alaska Peninsula. It was acquired on 26 March 2017. Seasonal sea ice dominates the upper part of the image. Image credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2017), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

 


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2017-05-04T15:00:32Z
Black Hole Visualisation Tool

Researchers at ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team (Alexander Wittig and Jai Grover) have created this amazing black hole visualisation tool, now licenced under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO. It simulates the view of an observer looking at distant light sources ​while ​in the presence of a black hole. ​By default, the Milky Way panorama by ESO/S. Brunier (CC BY 4.0) is used as background image, but you can even upload your own and then take screenshots.

Note the web app runs on WebGL for rendering and this is why it needs a modern browser such as Firefox, Safari or Chrome.

Read more and try it via the links below.

Assets

In this screengrab from ESA ACT's black hole visualisation tool the ACT team itself 'falls' into a black hole ... :-) Image credit: ESA ACT, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

In this screengrab from ESA ACT’s black hole visualisation tool the ACT team itself ‘falls’ into a black hole which all of a sudden appeared at ESA ESTEC’s rainbow corridor … Image credit: ESA ACT, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO


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2017-03-23T14:03:25Z
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