[ESIP-all] Looking for recent earth observations of the Tasman Sea

Doug Olsen olsen at aero.und.edu
Fri Aug 9 11:18:33 EDT 2013

Don't ignore the lower resolution imagery. For example, ship wakes are clearly visible in 60m HICO data. Unfortunately HICO is on task request basis and thus extremely unlikely to have been imaging in the area. Best daily imagery I know of that would be routinely taken most everywhere is MODIS, 250 m in the red and NIR channels, and is free. Not sure what resolution would be needed to pick up the wake of a 70 footer, but you never know. Even if the ship wake can't be seen, the MODIS data could give you daily weather and clouds conditions on the days leading up to and immediately after last contact.

May also be routine 30 m Landsat 8 imagery taken, emphasis is on land surface but does extend at times of order 100km or more into neighboring oceans, depending on location. Though only available on 16-day cycle.

There is also a UN program called International Disaster Charter, or IDC, wherein spacefaring nations with earth observing assets agree to share imagery on a humanitarian basis. Typically they activate a disaster charter for hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. Not sure if they would do so for a missing ship, but all it takes is a request from a member nation. Australia is not a member, but the US is. If available, that may be the most comprehensive way to see what imagery is available from any open source for the time frame in question (as well as starting now and for a few weeks in the future), and get it fast and free.  See http://www.disasterscharter.org/home

Not sure how to get US to activate a charter search, but one place to start might be USGS EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls SD, they are point for US for IDC matters. See http://www.usgs.gov/natural_hazards/emergencymanagement/

Good luck,

Doug Olsen
Dept. Earth System Science and Policy
John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences
University of North Dakota

From: esip-all-bounces at lists.esipfed.org [mailto:esip-all-bounces at lists.esipfed.org] On Behalf Of Paul Woods
Sent: Friday, August 09, 2013 5:14 AM
To: frazmo
Cc: barbara.j.thompson at gmail.com; earth-space-science-informatics at lists.nasa.gov Science Informatics; <esip-all at lists.esipfed.org>; info at skytruth.org
Subject: Re: [ESIP-all] Looking for recent earth observations of the Tasman Sea

Frazmo et al:

Have you folks looked at Tomnod?


The've got hi-res imagery form Digital Globe.


On Aug 8, 2013, at 11:23 PM, frazmo <frazmo at gmail.com<mailto:frazmo at gmail.com>> wrote:

It may be a long shot, but the folks at Skytruth might be able to help with this issue of the lost ship. See their web site at:

and the recent article from the Washington Post Sunday magazine, which is informative and could be of general interest to the community:

The same kinds of techniques they use to find illegal fishing ships could be relevant to the question of what happened to the Schooner SV Niña. Best and cheers,
Steve Young

On Thu, Aug 8, 2013 at 9:59 PM, Joe Hourcle <oneiros at grace.nascom.nasa.gov<mailto:oneiros at grace.nascom.nasa.gov>> wrote:

I'm not much of one for observations pointed down from spacecraft.

Does anyone know of any near-real-time observations of sufficient spatial resolution to help?

(that they're actually allowed to talk about, of course)


Begin forwarded message:

> From: Barbara Thompson <barbara.j.thompson at gmail.com<mailto:barbara.j.thompson at gmail.com>>
> Date: August 8, 2013 6:26:43 PM EDT
> To: Joe Hourclé <oneiros at annoying.org<mailto:oneiros at annoying.org>>
> Subject: Virtual data pointing in the other direction?
> Joe,
> My friend Ralph is leading a search and rescue effort for a ship that's
> been missing on the Tasman Sea.  They were last heard from June 4.  We're
> trying to get images from May 28 to the present (emphasis on the earlier
> part of that window) to see if we can get any clue of what's happened to
> them.  There are 7 people on board - one of the people on the Schooner SV
> Niña is Evi Nemeth, author of many famous Unix/Linux sysadmin manuals.  : (
> Google granted us a free license to Google Earth Pro, but it still doesn't
> have images that are recent enough.  I wrote Google to see if they could
> give us more recent images, but I haven't heard back.  I'm kind of lost
> when it comes to Earth-pointed data, but then I realized I have a friend
> who is involved in Informatics for the American Geophysical Union.  : )
> Any idea how to get high-res data?  The ship is 70 feet long, so the 1.5-m
> resolution stuff in google earth would be fine.  Until we get images,
> they're focusing on ocean current models + drift models for other abandoned
> ships to help the aerial searchers more clearly refine the expected
> location for the ship.
> The ship was fairly well equipped for a 3-week cruise, so it's possible for
> them to survive with their supplies + fishing for several months.
> Any advice is appreciated.  We're posting info on the efforts at:
> http://evxx.com/
> Anyhow, if you have any idea how to get high-resolution data over the
> Tasman Sea, I'd be very happy to hear it.
> Thanks!
> Barbara

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