ESA is creating the most detailed portrait of the world’s land surface ever seen, using the Envisat environmental satellite.
The Globecover project aims to produce a map three times sharper than previous satellite maps.
Broken into 20 separate land cover classes, it will have numerous uses including plotting worldwide land-use trends, studying natural and managed ecosystems and modelling the extent and impact of climate change.
To obtain the necessary information, Envisat’s mediumresolution imaging spectrometer (MERIS) is being used in full resolution mode, acquiring images with a spatial resolution of 300m for 150 minutes daily.
It is estimated that 20 terabytes of information will be needed for the final map, the equivalent of 20 million books’ worth of data.