In Westminster, a company’s satellites help journalists the world over

A massive tent camp is seen near Kafaldin, Syria, on Feb. 16, 2020. (Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies)

“A journalist may just be starting their story and thinking of a research topic, or have heard something from a human source embedded in their organization or elsewhere, but they don’t have quiet enough to go on yet,” Wood explained in a recent interview. “Given the visual aspects of what we’re able to do, it complements (journalism) very well. Sometimes we can either refute or confirm the reporting.”

Along with natural disasters, Maxar’s technology especially excels at showing armed conflicts, which are often difficult and dangerous to report on. Its satellite imagery has proven the claims of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, and clearly shown the Myanmar military’s devastating destruction of their villages.

“Attacks against civilian infrastructure or displacement can be easily tracked through satellites,” said Koettl, from the New York Times. “A big added value of remote sensing is that satellite images come with a specific timestamp and coordinates, which can be useful to establish precise timelines.”

Last year, Maxar imagery

On Aug. 4, a massive amount of ammonium nitrate stored at a port in Beirut exploded, causing hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries as it leveled surrounding neighborhoods in the Lebanese capital.

Christoph Koettl, a visual investigations journalist at the New York Times, wanted to learn more about the ship that brought the ammonium nitrate to Beirut seven years earlier. To do so, he would need the help of Stephen Wood 2,600 miles away in Colorado and satellites 300 miles above them both.

Wood runs the news bureau at Maxar Technology, a space technology company based in Westminster. The news bureau works with journalists around the world at no cost to their news outlets, providing satellite imagery that can confirm crucial details of a story. Wood and Koettl were able to track the ship in Beirut and discover it’s still there, submerged not far from where it dropped its deadly cargo.

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“For larger stories, I often send them requests for very specific images and locations that I have already researched. For example, to track a motorcade in central Pyongyang as an indicator of Kim Jong-un’s whereabouts,” Koettl said.

This year alone, Maxar’s imagery showed the rapid construction of hospitals in Wuhan, China, and mass graves in Iran, where the government lied about coronavirus’s spread. It displayed the extent of wildfires in the U.S., an earthquake in Turkey, hurricanes in Central America, and an oil spill in Russia.

“We work with Maxar when we need detailed imagery from the sky,” said Tim Meko, deputy graphics director at the Washington Post. “The stars — or satellites — don’t always align due to weather or flight paths, however when they do the results are pretty fantastic.”

When television reporters in India heard China had constructed a village in the sovereign Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, they emailed Wood coordinates of the suspected village. Pulling from Maxar’s database of images, updated daily and dating back 20 years, Wood could see the creation of a new village.

A massive tent camp is seen near Kafaldin, Syria, on Feb. 16, 2020. (Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies)

“A journalist may just be starting their story and thinking of a research topic, or have heard something from a human source embedded in their organization or elsewhere, but they don’t have quiet enough to go on yet,” Wood explained in a recent interview. “Given the visual aspects of what we’re able to do, it complements (journalism) very well. Sometimes we can either refute or confirm the reporting.”

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Along with natural disasters, Maxar’s technology especially excels at showing armed conflicts, which are often difficult and dangerous to report on. Its satellite imagery has proven the claims of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, and clearly shown the Myanmar military’s devastating destruction of their villages.

“Attacks against civilian infrastructure or displacement can be easily tracked through satellites,” said Koettl, from the New York Times. “A big added value of remote sensing is that satellite images come with a specific timestamp and coordinates, which can be useful to …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics

      

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