Satellite data of the Esa

Internet platform shows Corona from space

Fewer pollutants, orphaned factories, hardly any shipping traffic: the effects of the corona crisis are even visible on satellite images. A new dashboard compiles them.

The corona pandemic brought public life to a standstill from mid-March onwards: many people no longer commuted to work, played in a Pasino.ch or industrial production was shut down, and aircraft remained on the ground. The social and economic changes were great – and they will continue to have an impact for a long time to come.

In fact, the magnitude of the corona crisis is so enormous that it can even be seen from space. The European Space Agency Esa and the European Commission have therefore set up a new Internet platform with data from Earth observation. The project called “Rapid Action Coronavirus Earth Observation” (Race) uses, among other things, satellite images from the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme and provides information on environmental pollution, economic activity or traffic.

Asparagus harvest can also be analysed
“I hope that the program will continue after Covid-19 and that we will add new data,” said Josef Aschbacher, head of the Esa’s Earth observation program. The aim is to expand the programme, which is currently limited to Europe, on a global scale. Some of the data collected would be analysed using artificial intelligence.

For example, the race platform will make it possible to track activity during the asparagus harvest in Brandenburg. The current data was compared with the 2019 season to assess the impact of Covid-19 on current asparagus production. Earth observation can also help to monitor the raw materials markets. For example, sentinel satellites monitor the activity of ships, which are the main means of transporting raw materials, around the port of Hamburg.

Internet platform shows Corona from space

Fewer pollutants, orphaned factories, hardly any shipping traffic: the effects of the corona crisis are even visible on satellite images. A new dashboard compiles them.

The corona pandemic brought public life to a standstill from mid-March onwards: many people no longer commuted to work, industrial production was shut down, and aircraft remained on the ground. The social and economic changes were great – and they will continue to have an impact for a long time to come.

In fact, the magnitude of the corona crisis is so enormous that it can even be seen from space. The European Space Agency Esa and the European Commission have therefore set up a new Internet platform with data from Earth observation. The project called “Rapid Action Coronavirus Earth Observation” (Race) uses, among other things, satellite images from the Copernicus Earth Observation Programme and provides information on environmental pollution, economic activity or traffic.

Asparagus harvest can also be analysed
“I hope that the program will continue after Covid-19 and that we will add new data,” said Josef Aschbacher, head of the Esa’s Earth observation program. The aim is to expand the programme, which is currently limited to Europe, on a global scale. Some of the data collected would be analysed using artificial intelligence.

For example, the race platform will make it possible to track activity during the asparagus harvest in Brandenburg. The current data was compared with the 2019 season to assess the impact of Covid-19 on current asparagus production. Earth observation can also help to monitor the raw materials markets. For example, sentinel satellites monitor the activity of ships, which are the main means of transporting raw materials, around the port of Hamburg.

Environmental information is also available to everyone. During the wedding of the exit restrictions, satellite images from Copernicus Sentinel-5 showed a decrease in air pollution in large cities such as Rome or Paris. “Immediately after the end of the restrictions, pollution increased again,” Aschbacher said. In the central Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered in December, the pollution is now even soon back at the level before Corona.