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Earth Observation Q4 2018 review

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I started writing these reviews in 2017, really to get a feel of the pace of change in Earth Observation / Geospatial today. Looking back over this year the pace has again been incredible.

Earth Observation Q1 2018 review

Earth Observation Q2 2018 review

Earth Observation Q3 2018 review

Every three weeks or so we discuss some of the main news items in more detail in the #scenefromabove podcast. If you are interested in more in-depth discussion, visit the podcast pages here, here or here.

Q4 2018


HyperSat to launch 2 satellites in 2020.

Planet was gearing up to launch (and later did launch) more satellites in November.

Morocco’s Mohammed 6-B satellite was launched.

31 more satellites including Hysis, Global-1 and 16 doves were launched on PSLVC43 rocket.

The small Sat express from Space X launched 64 small Sats. Get a list of them here.

Rocket Lab launched CubeSats for NASA.

Planet launched 12 more Doves on the 27th December, making three launches in 28 days.

New contracts demonstrated the continued strong demand for smallsat rideshare launch services.


More Sentinel 5P datasets were released and more information is shown here on the value this sensor has added.

Digital Globe produced the ‘first high-precision U.S. building footprints dataset created with machine learning’.

Work continued on the Landsat and Sentinel 2 harmonization project.

First images came back from NOVOSAR.

HysIS returned its first image.

ICEYE-X2 acquired its first image.

NASA IceSat began measuring ice thickness.

From mid December 2018 onwards, Sentinel 2 was made availabe worldwide to level 2a.

Projects / Workflows

Locating dams from space, a novel approach.

How to do a landcover classification with EO Learn.

Using the Radiant Earth Foundation API.

Identifying Whales from space using VHR data.

SparkGeo are doing cool things with STAC.

From a Satellite to computer in 55 seconds.

BlueDot was launched, providing information about the world’s water resources.

Monitoring human rights from space.

Processing satellite imagery onboard the satellite was demonstrated.

Mapping ALL the trees with Machine Learning.

Using AI to Map the world’s Palm Oil plantations and natural forests.



Earth Engine Apps released.

Raster Vision from Azavea was open sourced.

QGIS 3.4 (long term release) was released.

A good summary of some of the available processing EO options.

AWS Ground Station! Instead of building ground stations, it is now possible to use AWS on an as you need basis.

GDAL 2.4.0 was released.

ESA prepared for onboard EO processing using AI.


Phi week took place – videos are available.

The winners of the Copernicus Masters were announced.

The AGU took place in the US.

Companies / Investment / Governmental

Rezatec completed follow-on investment.

Capella space raised $19 million for radar constellation.

Seraphim Space camp mission 2 startups were revealed.

Digital Globe and NASA extended their partnership.

Australia’s CSIRO boosted Earth Observation and AI Budgets.

The Q3 seraphim space index for venture funding is here.

Subscription business model is the way forward for Planet data.

Copernicus (and other EU funded space activities) are set to receive an increase in funding.

Planet announced agreement to acquire Boundless.

DigitalGlobe and Orbital Insight deepened their partnership.

Is the gap between commercial and governmental EO growing?

Points of interest / News

Only 5% of Low Earth Orbit satellites have insurance.

NASA is evaluating small Sats.

Check out the Sentinel Hub Education website.

Group on Earth Observations (GEO) highlights 2017-18 are now available.

Updated QGIS map design book is out now.

Devastating California fires as captured from space.

UNICEF and ESA work together to use Earth Observation for the most vulnerable.

The change in the Earth’s surface over the last 25 years is captured in this interesting article.

The future of Low Earth Orbit satellites was discussed in the Economist.

Google to shut down Fusion Tables.

Enjoy a review of the best space pictures of 2018.

The most important satellite images from 2018?

….To finish this Q4 review, here is a stunning off-nadir World View 3 image of San Francisco:

Happy New Year to you all!

Did I miss something? Let me know and I will add it to the list.

I am a freelancer able to help you with your projects. I offer consultancy, training and writing. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

I have grouped all my previous blogs (technical stuff / tutorials / opinions / ideas) at

Feel free to connect or follow me; I am always keen to talk about Earth Observation.

I am @map_andrew on twitter

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