Earth Observation & Science

Earth Observation Applications


     Download SSTL's Applications of Earth Observation brochure

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 offers benefits of continual and repeatable coverage, the ideal choice for accurate large area surveys for:

  • Assessing rainwater runoff and flood risk
  • Planning infrastructure and public services
  • Monitoring planning controls
  • Estimating population figures and growth

Urban mapping, China
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    Land Cover Mapping, UK  

Land use and 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 realised 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:

  • 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 mineralisation
 Inland Water Resources, Australia
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   Glacier Extent Change, Peru  


Agriculture and Forestry

Agricultural and forestry management requires a reliable and accurate source of information, which can be provided by the satellite systems we offer.

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
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 the 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. 

Satellite data can be used for:

  • De-forestation, re-forestation and afforestation tracking
  • Fire damage detection
  • Change detection
  • Regular re-visit
  • Supporting carbon modelling
  • Forest species inventory 
Deforestation - Brazil, Bolivia borders
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Security and Surveillance

Heathrow Airport, London, UK
Heathrow Airport, London, UK
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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 

Maritime services


  • Ship detection
  • Maritime oil spill monitoring
  • Ice warnings
  • Oil slick monitoring
  • Asset protection
 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 SSTL.  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 man-made 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

Satellite imaging provides data for topographical mapping, land use analysis, and bathymetry.  

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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