Oi Oi, London Town
In UrtheCast’s latest Theia image from space, we get a glimpse at an enormous, bustling Heathrow Airport, and the River Thames as it snakes into the heart of London, England.
Arguably, there are few cities in the western world that begin to rival the cultural significance of London, and even fewer that are so populous. With an area covering ~670+ square miles, and a population of roughly 9.7 million, London holds the title of largest city in the European Union. As one of the most visited cities on the planet, it possesses one of the busiest airports in the world, Heathrow:
A Plane of a Different Color
When looking closely at the image of Heathrow Airport above, you’ll spot three planes — red, green, and blue — where there would typically be one. Although this may look like an anomaly, what this effect reveals is the plane’s velocity. Note on the left hand side of the airport runway that the different colored planes are in fact further apart than those on the right hand side of the image, meaning that the plane taking off on the left is moving significantly faster than the one on the right. This same effect can be seen with other vehicles as well, which you’ll notice in the image below:
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Did you spot the “rainbow” train? The clouds? Again, what looks like an anomaly reveals the velocity of the train as it speeds out of downtown London.
Because UrtheCast’s Theia camera is an RGB (red, green, blue) multispectral imager, it captures three image color layers, which result in this “rainbowing”.
In the case of the clouds, it’s more about the makeup of the clouds themselves, specifically their depth. The camera picks up the varying levels of the clouds and registers the cloud’s depth on the three color bands. Much like this cloud hovering closely above Buckingham Palace:
Bridges and Tunnels
UrtheCast’s Theia camera captures imagery at approximately 5.5-meter Ground Sampling Distance (GSD). At this resolution you can view the city’s features in fairly intricate detail, including Waterloo Station, Buckingham Palace and its courtyard. In addition to several Tube stations and the patchwork quilt of streets splaying out from the Thames, you can also spot tiny automobiles crossing the many Thames bridges.
It so happens that UrtheCast finds itself in London this week to present its story and imagery at the Defence Geospatial Intelligence (DGI) Conference and Exhibition. If you’re there, be sure to stop by the booth to say ‘ello to the UrtheCast crew. You can also follow the event’s Twitter handle, @DefenceGIS, for details.