What is EO?

What is Earth Observation (EO)?

[An animation image appears of clouds in a sky]

Narrator: Will it rain tomorrow?

[Image moves up until an animation of a wheat crop can be seen below the clouds]

How big will the wheat harvest be?

[Animation image shows cracks appearing through the ground growing the wheat]

How much damage did the earthquake cause?

[Animation image changes to show the world globe and the camera zooms out to show satellites orbiting the earth and their beams covering the earth and text appears beneath: Earth Observation]

We can answer questions like these with Earth Observation using sensors to learn about land, water and the atmosphere.

[Animation images move through to show a satellite attached to a buoy moving up and down in the ocean, a drone and a plane moving through the sky, and then a satellite circling the earth]

The sensors can be placed on the ground, attached to buoys, or flown on drones and aircraft but most often they’re carried on satellites.

[Camera zooms out to show four satellites encircling the earth]

Using satellites has many advantages. They can cover large regions even the whole earth.

[Camera zooms in on the world globe and a weather system can be seen moving across Australia on the globe and bar graphs can be seen at the bottom of the screen]

Monitoring can be systematic and continuous. For instance, weather measurements are taken as often as every ten minutes.

[Camera zooms out to show the same image on a computer screen and two hands can be seen pointing to the information on the screen]

Satellite observations give us consistent objective data that could be shared by many users.

[Camera zooms in on Australia on the computer screen and circles appear around problem areas on the map and then three computer screens appear showing data at various spots on the map]

These data provide the information we need to make decisions and take action, to identify problems and protect the natural environment, to provide help after disasters, and to monitor our planet’s systems and predict changes.

[Animation image changes to show a computer screen displaying a chart showing various Electromagnetic radiation lines and text appears above the chart: Electromagnetic spectrum]

Most Earth Observation involves sensing some kind of electromagnetic radiation.

[Animation image changes to show the world globe covered with sunlight radiation lines]

Often this is ordinary sunlight.

[Animation image moves down and a satellite can be seen moving around the globe emitting radio waves towards the earth]

Sometimes it’s infra-red radiation. We can even use radar where the satellite sends out radio waves and receives their reflections.

[Animation image shows clouds appearing around the surface of the globe and the image shows the satellite continuing to travel]

The benefit of radar is that it can see through cloud and at night.

[Animation image zooms out to show four different satellites orbiting Earth and then dotted lines appear linking the satellites up to the CSIRO logo and the camera zooms in on the logo]

Hundreds of Earth observing satellites orbit the planet and they’re all giving us information we need to manage our world now and in the future.

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Earth observation: How does it work?

Earth Observation (EO) data – the collection of satellite and in-situ information about Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems, provides unprecedented capabilities and efficiencies in monitoring the dynamics of our planet. Satellites have the power to view and monitor the Earth as a whole, collecting data across political boundaries and oceans, continuously, and in a systematic manner, thus providing accurate and reliable data to inform local and global management actions. EO-derived products and applications can then benefit many societal activities including managing our natural resources, food security challenges, climate change adaptation and mitigation, energy, transport, urban development; and increasing resilience.

Explore some of the exciting applications of EO data being developed by CSIRO researchers.