Last year, 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 by 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 days 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.
- In a web browser, go to nationalmap.gov.au.
- On the left side of the screen choose Add Data.
- From the list of items, select Satellite Imagery and add both Sentinel-2 A and Sentinel-2 B.
- Once the map loads, zoom and scroll to find the location you’re interested in.
- 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.
This story has been updated since its original publication.