In December 2019 I had the great pleasure of attending the 30th Anniversary Conference and AGM of the Geological Remote Sensing Group, which was held at the European Space Agency offices in Frascati, Italy.
The conference presentations and delegates nicely represented the history of geological Earth Observation (EO) during the lifetime of the group. There were fascinating discussions on how advances in EO data, such as the upcoming PRISMA hyperspectral sensor, and processing techniques such as super-resolution, are supporting the creation of ever better geological maps and interpretations.
There were also topics that suggested future directions for the EO field, including mapping of greenhouse gas emissions (with notable results such as a satellite studying volcanoes finding a giant oilfield methane plume) and exploring for geothermal resources – an important part of the Energy Transition.
Several of the speakers also highlighted the ongoing progression from data supply to information supply, required in part by the vast quantities of data that are being collected on a daily basis – one new ESA satellite is actually equipped with AI to allow the on-board creation of information products, reducing the amount of data that needs to be downlinked. Esri’s Living Atlas and Google’s Earth Engine Data Catalog already provide access to such products, and so these can be integrated directly into spatial workflows today.
At an earlier stage in this ‘automation of information’, ESA staff also demonstrated how their free SNAP software can be used to generate InSAR products from their (also free) Sentinel data for use in geohazard mapping.
As ever the conference included excellent social events, including a Gala dinner at which a rather impressive celebratory cake was presented by ESA. Here’s to 30 more years of the GRSG!
I’d also like to note that a special Geological Society publication covering the proceedings is ‘in the works’, which will be well worth acquiring once it is available.
Posted by Ross Smail, Head of Innovation, Exprodat.