With development support from national organizations, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA, researchers at the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed two new mobile apps that will bring the power of satellite data right to your fingertips.
Developed primarily for iOS devices, however currently in Beta for Android devices as well, the two new applications SatCam and WxSat (short for Weather Satellite) provide users with global coverage right from satellites in Earth's outer orbit. Leveraging the SSEC Data Center's holdings in Earth-bound orbiters, the application developers use visible, infrared, and water vapor channels to give application users a real-time view of ground conditions, overhead skies and even weather forecasts according to the movements of a storm.
The first of the two applications, SatCam, which is only available on iOS devices, allows mobile users to not only view satellite imagery but also to interact with the data collection process, as well. Users are first asked to capture a SatCam observation of the sky or ground conditions, then are asked to submit the images to the SatCam server. These images support NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites, as well as the NOAA/NASA Suomi-NPP satellite, by giving researchers vital information necessary for clearing up any obstructions in the satellites' views. This helps NASA and the NOAA better interpret data, which at times can be difficult to read because of obstructions caused by clouds or aerosol products.
"SatCam is a great example of a citizen science app that allows anyone with an iPhone to help improve the data products from instruments onboard three flagship Earth science missions," senior outreach specialist for Global Science and Technology, Inc., Steve Graham says.
On the other hand, WxSat offers users greater diversity in the information available around the globe. By blending data from other satellites, researchers with SSEC have developed a method for updating users 36 minutes past every hour, with a dynamic view of the world around them.
"Geostationary and polar orbiting weather satellites, like Suomi-NPP, continuously capture observations of the earth" spokewoman for the NOAA, Lauren Gaches says. "Data from these satellites are acquired by the SSEC Data Center which has one of the most extensive collections of real-time and archived weather satellite data in the world. WxSat blends those images into single hourly global composites for three different products (Visible, Infrared, and Water Vapor)."
The three different products represent three most widely used atmospheric channels, which NOAA forecasters combine to develop weather predictions, monitor forest fires, ocean currents, and even long-term climate patterns from a global perspective.
Want to get your hands on the apps now? Visit the SSEC website for your free download and get involved in the research: http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/apps/