RACE or the crisis of the Covid-19 view of the sky - The Point

During the confinement period decided to slow down the progression of the pandemic Covid-19, clichés satellites showing the pollution due to human activities dr

RACE or the crisis of the Covid-19 view of the sky - The Point

During the confinement period decided to slow down the progression of the pandemic Covid-19, clichés satellites showing the pollution due to human activities dry up suddenly, had caused a sensation. It must be said that, for the first time, citizens of the world could their eyes linking this pollution to its sources, and especially to see the almost immediate effect of their sleep forced. This pause is almost general in the economic activity of a large number of countries in the world, unthinkable till then, was now taking the shape of a big, voices rising to make the occasion an acceleration of the fight against climate change.

with Regard to space activities, often perceived as costly and superfétatoires by the people, and they made a sudden demonstration of their virtues informational incomparable. Industrial towns without a cloud of pollution, sites of production, frozen, ports and airports deserted, the fields abandoned... : the chinese government would have been able to say what he wanted, the reality of the slowdown of its economy would not have been able to escape the eyes of our satellites for Earth observation.

An interactive platform accessible to all

The european Union and the european space Agency (ESA) have understood it well. Surfing on this wave, probably to take the positive out of a crisis that will not fail to affect, the ESA has just put, at the disposal of all, a tool to exploit the huge amount of data collected by the seven Sentinel satellite of the european programme of Earth observation Copernicus – about 250 terabits/day, the equivalent of some 125 000 hours of video – but also by other satellites, such as those of the Pleiades system.

" The idea was planted in march in a period of full containment. From there, we worked with a dozen of companies in Europe and with european scientists referents in the relevant areas. One can almost say that RACE is the fruit of the containment, because this project has been almost fully achieved by teleworking. In just two months, this is a real tour de force, "says Yves-Louis Desnos, head of the department" uses the data " to the european space Agency has assured the management of the project.

The strategic nature of the observation of the Earth

The tool dubbed RACE (Rapid Action Coronavirus Earth observation) has been designed as a kind of dashboard, and combines the data of observations of the Earth and artificial intelligence. Policy makers, businesses, academics, students and the curious can access it, free of charge and without prior registration, to consult, via an interactive map, social indicators, economic and environmental. In practice, one can observe the evolution of the water quality of the Adriatic sea, before, during and after the confinement, or the quality of the air in the most industrial plain of the river Po in Italy.

The concentrations of nitrogen dioxide above the Italy. © ESA

" as to the quality of the air, the displayed data are averaged over a period of one to two weeks to rid the data of the effect of meteorological phenomena and thus make it more relevant ", said Yves-Louis Desnos. RACE is also a measure of the fluctuation of the activity by the human presence on sites of strategic production as the factory mother of Volkswagen, in Wolfsburg, Germany, or to compare the activity of the port of Dunkirk on various dates. Low early may, the latter seems to have returned to near normal by the end of the month. In addition, each of the docks is more or less dedicated to one type of goods, it is possible to obtain, for example, information on the market of raw materials such as minerals.

The ambition behind RACE ? Allow everyone to observe the effects of the crisis of the Covid-19 as well as the effects of the economic recovery in order to encourage more sustainable practices. What to do, in sum, the demonstration of the strategic value of space programs for Earth observation.

Soon to be new data available

To find RACE, you can click here. Knowing that the information that you will find today are just the first base. Indeed, other data on many other european sites still need to be added, week after week. In addition, the u.s. space Agency Nasa and the japanese space agency Jaxa should very soon be involved in, and provide, at the same time, their own data, including settings a little different that the ESA is keen to keep secret for the moment. To learn more, visit its site on 25 June next.

Updated Date: 08 June 2020, 14:33

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