DigitalGlobe and MDA, two major players in the satellite data provider world, have decided to merge

On July 27th, DigitalGlobe Inc. announced that its shareowners overwhelmingly voted to approve the Company’s proposed merger with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (aka MDA), another major player in the satellite data business. MDA's shareholders likewise overwhelmingly voted to approve the issuance of MDA common shares to the holders of DigitalGlobe stock. The transaction is expected to close in or shortly after the third quarter of 2017.

The merger is no surprise if you have been following the press statements of both companies. They have been quietly collaborating on a next-generation Earth-observation constellation called WorldView Legion that MDA-subsidiary Space Systems Loral will build in Palo Alto, California.

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Greenland... Wildfire?

Greenland is usually associated with ice and snow, but the country has fallen victim to a large wildfire that has been raging since the end of July. The fire was imaged by the Copernicus Sentinel-2A satellite on 8 August 2017. The satellite carries a multispectral high-resolution multispectral camera working in 13 wavelength bands. The animation uses different combinations of these bands to show the fire in natural colour, to highlight the flames and to show the burnt areas.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

Greenland is almost entirely covered by a thick ice sheet, but there are exposed carbon-rich peatlands along the coast. The fire, which is in the western part of the country, appears to be a peatland fire. The fear is that the fire may have broken out because permafrost is melting, making the peat more susceptible to catching fire. Also, since it is peat, which can be used as a fuel, it could burn for some time.

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Blooms in the Caspian Sea

Given adequate sunlight and nutrients, phytoplankton populations can swell into blooms large enough to be visible from space. On August 3, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of several blooms in the Caspian Sea:

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Phytoplankton blooms are often harmless, and are an important food source for marine life. Other times, blooms can be harmful; they can deplete the water’s oxygen and suffocate marine life, and produce toxins that can be harmful to both aquatic creatures and humans.

Lake Urmia is visible west of the Caspian Sea. Microscopic organisms periodically turn the lake’s salty water striking shades of red and orange.

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Icebergs: Does Loss Lead to Instability?

Thanks to the satellite era, we recently witnessed the birth of one of the biggest icebergs on record. While the breakup of Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf hit the headlines around the world, this dramatic event also presents scientists with a unique opportunity to learn more about ice-sheet stability.

Source: ESA Observing the Earth

On 12 July, Europe’s Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission returned radar images showing that a lump of ice more than twice the size of Luxembourg had broken off the Antarctic Peninsula.

Since then, this large tabular iceberg – known as A68 – has drifted about 5 km from the ice shelf. Images from Sentinel-1 also show that a cluster of more than 11 smaller icebergs has now also formed, the largest of which is over 13 km long.

These ‘bergy bits’ have broken off both the giant iceberg and the remaining ice shelf.

Anna Hogg from the University of Leeds, UK, commented, “Our ability to routinely monitor rapidly unfolding events such as this has been revolutionised in the last few years by European investment in the Copernicus satellites.”

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Arianespace’s lightweight Vega orbits OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs on a milestone success

For the second time this year – and the 10th overall since entering service in 2012 – Vega has successfully launched a payload from the Spaceport, with this lightweight vehicle’s latest mission delivering the OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs Earth observation satellites to Sun-synchronous orbits.

The light-lift Vega ascends from the Spaceport's SLV launch complex with its OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs satellite passengers.
Source: Arianespace

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IGARSS will come in Brussels in 2021

As co-organizer, BELSPO STEREO team is very proud to announce that the organisation of IGARSS 2021 has been awarded to the Low Countries (Belgium and The Netherlands).

IGARSS (IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium) is one of the most important international meetings in the field of remote sensing attracting thousands of scientists all over the world.

The event will take place in Brussels on July 11-16 July 2021.

It's a great opportunity for our countries and our scientific communities.

The Local Organising Committee hopes that you will turn out en masse to present your work
to the international community and make it a fun event!

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