Armenian specialists and University of Geneva develop multi-dimensional system for collecting satellite photos and information

November 7, 2022  15:32

Institutes of Armenian National Academy of Sciences together with the University of Geneva are developing a collection of satellite photographs and a multidimensional information system, aimed at assessing and monitoring the ecological state of the environment.

To create a remote sensing system for ecological monitoring of landscapes in Armenia, the Center for Ecological and Sphere Studies of Armenian NAS and the Institute of Informatics and Automation Problems of Armenian NAS are developing a multidimensional information system (information cube). In cooperation with the University of Geneva, Switzerland, a multidimensional information system for collection and processing of satellite photographs was developed. The system is based on the University of Geneva's experience in creating the National Cube of Swiss satellite photo data.

According to Shushanik Asmarian, head of the Geographic Information System and Remote Sensing Department of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, candidate of geographical sciences, the two-year work has created an opportunity to collect satellite photos in a national database, which includes a full archive of Landsat and Sentinel-2 satellite photos, as well as photos obtained from drones.

"The system has developed an algorithm to distinguish and delineate water features using the Python programming language, which is planned to be a tool for deciphering water features from satellite photos in the information system," she said.

Why are satellite images important?

According to her, satellite photos are one of the most important sources of reliable environmental information and have become an integral part of environmental assessment and monitoring.

"Despite their great advantages, these data have one problem: they are large in size and require computer computing resources to process them. In the case of studying spatial and temporal changes in geographic phenomena, such as pasture degradation, lake water quality, changes in forest cover, etc., several 100 or 1,000 photos require serious computer computing resources with which to process the photos. These technologies are called multi-dimensional Earth observation systems (data cube)," said Shushanik Asmaryan.

According to her, today freely available data cubes, such as Google Earth Engine (GEE) system, have already been developed and are widely used by the scientific community and decision-making organizations. However, in such systems, depending on the amount of data, there is a limit to the free use of the system. And having such systems in place for informed decision making at the national level is becoming important and even mandatory every year.

What is the significance of the National Satellite Information Cube?

"Our National Satellite Information Cube is crucial to the implementation and application of satellite information in informed decision making. It is noteworthy that in 2022 Armenia has entered a new stage of space researches and development of space technologies thanks to having its own satellite. It is already becoming imperative to have a national platform for processing photographs, which is still in its infancy and needs to go a long way to become a national platform, equipped with tools and computing resources for processing satellite images," Shushanik Hasmaryan said.

According to her, there is a big reaction in the international geoinformation community to the initiatives aimed at creating national information cubes, including the example of Armenia. "The results of the work were reported in 2021 at the international scientific conference "The Platform for Advanced Scientific Computing-PASC 2021" held in Switzerland on July 5-9. Also of great interest are the results of the Global Earth Observation Group (GEO), which are regularly presented in the GEO annual reports," noted Shushanik Asmaryan.

The work was done as part of the Armenian Data Cube for Sustainable Development - ADC4SD project. It was funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Science Education and Innovation in the framework of the pre-investment grants program. A large part of the working group is composed of young scientists. Scientific articles have been published about the work, the first of which you can read here, the second here, and the third article here.

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