Google’s Skybox imaging has showcased night-time HD video from its first satellite, SkySat-1.
Skybox’s polar orbiting imaging satellites spend about 40% of their time in the dark, so the ability to capture video at night means they can offer insights into change occurring around the clock.
Night-time imagery isn’t as useless as it may first appear; as seen in Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) imagery from NASA’s Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) mission and EROS-B night imagery from ImageSat, lights seen at night are a good signature of economic activity. Skybox claims that the presence and time-dependent changes of these can provide insight for a wide spectrum of civil, commercial, and humanitarian use cases.
Indeed, Skybox also claims that nighttime satellite imagery has applications in:
- Energy production and consumption estimation
- Coastal and maritime domain awareness for shipping, fishing, and trade
- Industrial facility use and infrastructure assessment
- Trade and transport traffic pattern analysis
- Humanitarian crisis support
Skybox have released a video showing Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada at night as seen by Skybox Imaging’s SkySat-1 satellite from low Earth orbit on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 10:42 p.m. local time, complete with flashing lights and moving cars. Notable sites visible in the scene include the Bellagio Hotel and its renowned fountain lake, and Paris Las Vegas’ brightly-illuminated model of the Eiffel Tower, located near the centre of the video.