Eyes in the sky aim to pro­tect Earth’s rain­forests, re­sources

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SAN FRAN­CISCO, Sept 15, (AFP): In the Brazil­ian state of Para, ev­ery week, au­thor­i­ties re­ceive alerts show­ing them which parts of the Ama­zon for­est have been chopped down, with pho­tos to back it up.

The pic­tures are taken ev­ery day at 10:30 in the morn­ing by Amer­i­can satel­lites, of­fer­ing a de­tailed view of ev­ery three to five me­ters on the ground.

An al­go­rithm helps re­veal au­to­mat­i­cally where log­ging has taken place.

The au­thor­i­ties send agents to in­ves­ti­gate and po­ten­tially ap­pre­hend the sus­pects be­fore they do any more dam­age.

“It used to take six days, some­times two or three months with­out images,” said Iara Musse Felix, CEO of SCCON, the com­pany which dis­trib­utes the alerts. “Now we have daily images.” This rev­o­lu­tion in for­est sur­veil­lance, and the Earth in gen­eral, comes from a con­stel­la­tion of satel­lites run by a com­pany called Planet.

Founded in San Fran­cisco in 2010 by three for­mer NASA sci­en­tists, Planet is a leader in small satel­lites, which are eas­ier to pro­duce and re­place, and tend to have mis­sion lives of be­tween three and five years.

This eco­nomic model is vastly at odds with the tra­di­tional aero­space in­dus­try, which builds large, so­phis­ti­cated satel­lites that are far more pow­er­ful but take hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to build.

Planet has placed 298 satel­lites in or­bit since 2013, and half of those were launched last year.

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