How To Access Near Real Time Satellite Feeds Of Australia

Image: Getty Images

Last week, I called a company about installing solar panels at my house. I was told they wouldn't do the installation because of the shade cast my neighbour's massive tree. I was extra surprised when the sales guy told me he was looking at a satellite image that was just a couple of weeks old. Now I know how he got the information. The government makes satellite imagery available with images updated every few days - far more frequently than Google Maps. Here how you can access the images.

Access to this service launched last September with images from the pair of Sentinel-2 satellites updated every few days. Unlike Google's images, which always show clear skies, these aren't handpicked images. And you can go back over 90 days to see changes in your local area. Images are taken across the Australian continent from the same angle every 5 days. Images are often updated more frequently in overlapping images from different angles.

The images aren't at the same high resolution at those provided by Google but they include multi-spectral data that lets so you can see vegetation, bodies of water and urban land cover.

The information can be used to see the effects of floods and droughts as well as tracking changes to vegetation, forests and coastlines and seeing the effects of fires and changes in climate. The images also contribute to disaster mapping and helping humanitarian relief efforts.

Here's how you can view the images.

  1. In a web browser, go to nationalmap.gov.au.
  2. On the left side of the screen choose Add Data.
  3. From the list of items, select Satellite Imagery and add both Sentinel-2 A and Sentinel-2 B.
  4. Once the map loads, zoom and scroll to find the location you're interested in.
  5. Use the slider at the bottom of the screen to scroll across the timeline.

The quality of the imagery isn't great but I was able to use to to see the effect of the recent bout of warm weather in my locale on a local park.

The left side is from mid December while the right is from Australia Day.

The data service lets you look art all sorts of information as well as the satellite imagery.


Comments

    The left side is from mid December while the right is from Australia.

    In this article, nations are months. Or months are nations.

    If the picture above is an example of the picture quality available, I don't understand how the solar panel installer could tell the shadow would be a problem. I can just make out the roofs in that picture. Unless there is higher resolutions available for an access fee.

    Just looked up my address and it doesn't even show stuff I did a year ago, so dunno how this is near realtime?

    You must live in Melbourne. The satellite does not seem to cover the whole of Australia.

      Seem's like it does "strips" each day in different areas. I had to move the date back a week or so to find my state on it

        I figured it out. Thanks. Looks like repeats a site every 10 days. Two satellites so get a photo every 5 days but some of course are affected by cloud.

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