The Ukrainians have developed a tool to work with satellite images of the Earth directly in browser

Employees of the US company EOS Data Analytics (specialized in analyzing and processing Big GIS data) with a representative office in Ukraine have developed a tool Land Viewer, which enables ordinary users – journalists, researchers, teachers and students – to view and download huge amounts of satellite images of the Earth’s surface. This tool is absolutely free of charge. It works directly in browser, including on mobile devices.

Stepan Klimov, Product Manager of EOS, posted in his Facebook account, “It is about more than a petabyte (Pb ~ = 1000 terabyte — Editor’s note.) of images from two satellites: Americal Landsat 8 and European Sentinel 2A, which are publicly available and, owing to our tool, everyone is able to view them in browser, let it be either mobile phone, tablet, built-in browser of Tesla car (yes, I know what I am talking about as I tested it) or PC.”

It is easy to use this tool – the interface is similar to Google Maps that we are accustomed to. For this purpose you need to open an application in browser and, using zoom, to increase the size of the plot on the map that a user is interested in. Select the satellite – Landsat 8 or Sentinel 2A in the menu on the right. These satellites differ by resolution: 30 m and 10 m per pixel accordingly.

A grid of the Earth’s surface coverage by satellite images will appear on the map. You should select the cell, which covers most of the area of interest. A preview list of satellite images for this cell will appear in the menu on the right. These images can be sorted by date and cloudiness. In order to download an image in the browser window, you should click it and wait for a few seconds.

Using zoom, you can see all details on the image. Stepan explained, “For instance, the images can depict fires and floods. You are able to compare the photos, taken in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and see the dynamics of changes in housing development, river bed, forest, etc.”

For curious users we have the Band Combinations tab, which allows you to view
an image in in different channels and their combinations. Stepan writes, “For example, bellow is the link to forest fire near Pripyat, Chernobyl, fixed by Sentinel satellite in the infrared spectral range. It took place last summer on July 17, 2016. Forest fires are better seen in the infrared spectral range. There are also combinations of channels for study of vegetation (find out about Carpathian Mountains and deforested areas), agricultural land, ice cover or water (underflooding, river flooding, etc.).”

According to Stepan, the main distinction of the tool is that the indices on the basis of Band Combinations are generated by the user’s request in real-time mode. If a user needs to view an image and take a decision whether it is appropriate for the project, this user is not required to download the whole image with the size of half a gigabyte to computer and afterwards to process it using costly specialized software – all this can be done directly in browser, thereby saving a lot of traffic and time.

It is also possible to download images to computer, but you should log in for this purpose.

As Stepan Klimov told us in his comments, made for AIN.UA, Land Viewer is a part of technology for geospatial image processing, being developed by EOS. Kostya Nesterenko, one of the Company’s employees, got this idea in spring of 2016. Stepan says, “We realized that the world had accumulated too many satellite images, and still there was lack of simple and user-friendly tool for viewing these images.”

At that time users were able to find an image, to view its attributes (coordinates, coverage, and cloudiness). However, in order to find out whether the image was suitable for addressing specific problem, they needed to download heavy images, to process these images using specialized software and only afterwards a decision was taken. If they were not satisfied with the image – the process was iterated.

Stepan Klimov told us, “During the period of image downloading we had enough time
to make and drink tea. At the same time, we handled the same images in the cloud and just decided to make our life (as well life of many other people) easier. We started thinking about it in April, and in June we released the first version. Half a year later, this tool is used by thousands of users all over the world.” By the way, among our users are such organizations as Bellingcat and GreenPeace Russia.

From the developers’ observations, Land Viewer is predominantly used by personnel of commercial organizations, GIS-specialists, employed in agricultural industries, geology and forestry, representatives of higher educational institutions, open data and OSINT-journalists as well as students and activists, addressing environmental problems. Our service is completely free of charge and will continue to be so. The Company has no intentions to monetize it. Stepan specified, “However, we ask users to log in before downloading satellite image. We are interesting in collecting information on geography of users and downloads. We believe that they are potential users of other projects that we develop.”

EOS Data Analytics is founded by Max Polyakov, a native of Ukraine. The Ukrainian team works on cloud platform, which extracts critical information from geospatial images, obtained from satellites, aircrafts and drones. Based on this platform, the Ukrainians develop applications to solve the applied problems in different industrial sectors: water resource and forestry management, monitoring in construction, pipeline transport and agriculture.

Let us remind you that earlier Vega launcher with Ukrainian engine placed Turkish military satellite in orbit.