Monday, April 12, 2010

Satellite Image Analysis Reveals South Ossetian Damage

Satellite Imagery Analysis

An article from ScienceDaily on October 9, 2008 discusses the usage of satellite imagery analysis to determine the damage done in the South Ossetian during the Russian-Georgian conflict. The article uses analysis done by the American Association for the Advancement of Science at the request of Amnesty International USA. The AAAS study examined damage to 24 villages near the city of Tskhinvali, which is considered the main city in South Ossetia. The AAAS looked at the damage of structures on August 10th, and compared them to the damage on August 19th. They determined that Tskhinvali sustained the greatest amount of damage (182 structures) between the 10th and 19th of August. The details of how they believe the buildings were destroyed corroborated the stories from the ground that fires were the main cause. The AAAS study combined eye-witness accounts of destruction with objectively interpreted satellite images purchased through three commercial vendors: GeoEye, DigitalGlobe and ImageSat International. They also used the software packages ERDAS Imagine and ArcView to leverage the power of remote sensing technology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), respectively.

  • Used to corroborate reports on the ground.
  • Can be very detailed.
  • Easy to compare images from different dates.

  • Need of trained professionals.
  • Software can be expensive.


1 comment:

  1. It seems as though satellite imagery of conflict areas requires eye-witness/HUMINT corroboration to support analytic findings. In what ways can satellite imagery distort pictures of conflict areas?