Tuesday October 9, 2012
Eye of the Sky exhibition shows value of remote sensing for seeing earth
Exhibition shows the value of remote sensing in planning and conservation.
THE urge to view the Earth from ever higher altitudes has fascinated man since the earliest cameras were invented. The rudimentary forms of space imagery started with hot air balloons that were floated to extreme altitudes (more than 20km), high enough to see the curvature of Earth.
Later, the invention of rocket engines lifted the art of image making to even greater heights. On Oct 24, 1946, not long after the end of World War II (years before the Sputnik satellite), a group of scientists in the New Mexico desert put cameras into V-2 rockets (seized from the Germans) and saw the very first pictures of Earth from space.
The V-2 rockets went up as high as 105km, and gave a perspective that got the world all excited. More V-2s were fired into space over the next four years, and they took more than 1,000 pictures of the planet, some from as high as 160km.
Today, observation satellites are performing the task of providing that outside view, and the world is again benefiting from Germany’s contributions.
Modern satellites capture data digitally, and can exploit regions of the electromagnetic spectrum invisible to the human eye.
For example, they can identify trace gases in the atmosphere, show the health of forests, reveal the encroachment of cities into wilderness, as well as display elevation profiles, ocean currents, glacier movements and many other features.
The data capture happens on a continuous basis, and helps paint a detailed picture of the health of our planet over large swathes.
“Many images reveal the consequences of our constantly increasing global population’s hunger for resources and the need for corrective action. As objective global observers, satellites make an important contribution here,” said the German Embassy in Malaysia, which is co-organising a satellite imagery exhibition with the German Academic Exchange Service of Kuala Lumpur and the German Malaysian Institute.
The free exhibition Eye of the Sky consists of 18 high-resolution images showing the transformation of the planet’s natural landscapes. It is on until Oct 23 at the German-Malaysian Institute located at Taman Universiti, Jalan Ilmiah, Kajang.
Exhibition hours: 9am-5pm (Mon to Thurs) and 9am-12pm (Fri). For more information, visit ic.daad.de/kualalumpur or gmi.edu.my. — Meng Yew Choong