Space Imaging Responds to Katrina: A Look Behind the Scenes

By Adena Schutzberg

Gary Napier of Space Imaging shared some of what's gone on at the company in responding to Katrina.
IKONOS Collection Coverage Area
Gary Napier explained "Typically polar-orbiting satellite like IKONOS collect north to south strips because that is the direction of their orbital path.That's the easier way to collect large areas of ground.But we've come to find over the past five years that the agility of IKONOS (the speed in which it can slew of nadir) allows it to also take large areas west to east, east to west." (Click for larger image)

The company essentially cleared its IKONOS satellite collection schedule each time it passed over the impacted area.The first images were shot Tuesday, Aug.30.Unfortunately, the only cloud-free image was over Mobile, Ala.When the orbital path put IKONOS back in range Friday, Sept.2, Space Imaging executed a collection plan to shoot large swaths of imagery from Mobile to New Orleans in a single pass.That pass covered 12,500 square kilometers.As of the 8th, Thursday, the satellite imaged more than 35,000 sq km of the Gulf Coast.

Space Imaging worked closely with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to prioritize the areas that needed to be collected.Same day turnaround was possible.

The licensing agreement with the NGA meant that other agencies could also use the images.Data was shared with Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, US Geological Survey, Northern Command, US Army Space Command and Army Corps of Engineers.Space Imaging also established a high-bandwidth internet site to host gigabytes of imagery data for direct download by users authorized by the NGA.

To share imagery with the impacted residents, Space imaging offered many before-and-after images of New Orleans, Gulf Port, Biloxi, Mobile and Pascagoula via a web-based viewer.That imagery was also widely used by the media.

Published Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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