High-quality satellite imagery of more than 70% of Western Australia’s area, equal to 1.75 million square kilometres, can now be accessed by the state’s mining sector.
A ‘constellation’ of five satellites have been going about their work for just over a year, capturing more than one billion square kilometres’ worth of the Earth’s surface in the process.
The images are captured by German geospatial information provider RapidEye and collated and distributed in Australia by AAM.
There has been an increase in activity above Western Australia in the last six months, with more than 2000 separate images captured since the beginning of the year.
According to AAM business development manager Gail Kelly, this is mainly due to increasing interest from the state’s private sector; essentially the mining and oil and gas industries.
“We specify where our clients are planning projects or exploration and RapidEye will schedule an image capture,” she told Australian Mining.
“Depending on the size of the area, they will commit a number of satellites to fly over the target.
“Once we have the images, we will mosaic them together and enhance them according to the client’s specifications.”
Kelly said many mining operations are using the images to observe the terrain and vegetation present at their projects.
“These images come in high-quality natural colour; it is as if you were flying above the land in an aircraft,” she said.
“So the miners can get a really strong idea of the topography, such as if there are any existing access points.
“Some companies are also interested in monitoring the environment around their projects to see if there are any changes because of their activities.”
When all five satellites work in tandem, the company is capable of imaging and downloading over four million square kilometres of high resolution, multi-spectral images per day.
The satellites maintain a uniform pixel size across all five spectral bands and use a ‘red edge’ sensing capability to identify the condition of vegetated areas.
“Obtaining such images has proved quite a challenge in the past,” Kelly said.
“State and Federal Governments are also interested in using the imagery for similar purposes, such as monitoring land clearing.”
AAM hopes to map the entirety of Western Australia in the next few months, before it completes its coverage of the rest of Australia.