Field Test — Siyu Liu

  • Must have a media focus.

The media focus of my field test is to use public available satellite images to tell    stories. I’ll be requesting satellite images of Onondaga Lake and to inspect its    surrounding vegetation and environment in general.

  • State a hypothesis for how a technology could be used to tell a story in a new way.

Telling stories from space using satellite images produced by NASA’s satellites is       still very new, but has been recognized by many new organizations around the         world. The aerial images contain a lot of information and journalists have to be         able to tell the difference from those images over time.

    This new way of storytelling is also known as remote sensing, meaning as                 different satellites scan the globe, they gather a variety of information, this data    gathering process is called remote sensing. Although using satellite images is a    new concept for journalists, scientists have been using this method for a long time.

  • Come up with a plan of action.

For every data story, getting the data is important. As a result, my first step is to find and request the satellite images.

After I got the images, I’ll process them and start to look for the difference from different dates those images were taken.

The last step is to find out the reasons of the differences, such as vegetation decrees or increase.

  • Carry out the test.

The process didn’t go as well as I thought for several reasons.

  1. The websites where most of the data stored are hard to navigate. It’s understandable as the majority of their audience are scientists. It took me a while to figure out what each abbreviations mean and different satellites take different pictures for the same location.

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  1. Downloading the images was a surprise challenge for me. In the beginning, I thought as long as I figured out what images I wanted, I should be fine. Wrong! Unlike downloading images from Google, downloading satellite images from USGS is different. I had to add the images I wanted to a list and send the list to a cart, the images can only be viewed or download from the cart.


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  • Report back on how it went. Include photos and results (embedded or otherwise) in your post.

The problem I’m having now is that the satellite images are not clear and zoomed. After some researching, I found out by using some command-line tools, the images can be processed to show clear views.

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