An East-Africa-friendly mobile app to be used with an improvised parabolic dish for tracking an ELEO satellite and beaming messages to it -- during normal times, sending collected data about watershed terrain and insect pests, and, in the wake of disasters, messages of potential life-saving value for all.

This project is solving the Forest Monitor Mapping challenge.


(Text copied under Apache license link to original )

The use of remote sensing satellites to help forecast and monitor disasters like floods and landslides is literally of vital importance. The life-saving potential need not end with basic remote sensing. In the wake of these disasters, such satellites might also serve some emergency communications purposes. For example, if a mobile phone can be positioned at the focal point of an improvised parabolic dish pointed continuously at the satellite as it flies over, the satellite might act as a message buffer when local (terrestrial) links have failed because of damage from storms, floods or landslides. However, such disasters, while tragic, are not very frequent. You'd prefer ELEO remote-sensing satellites to be useful in other ways during normal times. Such satellites will fly over a lot of ocean, so surely there could also be oceanographic uses for all of the sensors and communications aboard. But the focus here is on the value of an Earth-to-orbit connection for larger communities living in the major land masses.

If we are more interested in how satellites could improve people's lives in densely populated areas in the impoverished tropics, consider forecasting, monitoring and supporting disaster relief efforts related to insect activity as much as possible, not just floods and landslides. Individual insects, even swarms, can't be seen at all from space, of course. However, the conditions under which they proliferate, as well as some of the (often disastrous) results of their proliferation, can be monitored to some extent with satellite remote sensing.

There is a relationship here between insect pest outbreaks and the watershed disasters of floods and mudslides. Insect pests can cause "slow-motion disasters" -- crop failures, disease outbreaks, in the same watersheds from which the floods and mudslides come. Droughts that dry up the soil around plant roots and kill soil-anchoring plants can loosen the soil on slopes. This increases landslide risk during a torrential rain, and can mean that downpours carry more mud into flooded areas. But insects can speed this process, by increasing the plant death rate. Droughts can also weaken crop plants and make them more vulnerable to insect pests, contributing to malnutrition, famine and refugee flows. Disastrous flooding in one area can carry dangerous insects (malarial mosquitoes, tsetse flies) to other areas. Climate change makes all of these problems worse. Greater variations in precipitation, to which East African peoples are especially exposed -- combined with high population growth (also a feature of East Africa) can make all of these disasters more lethal.

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License: Apache License 2.0 (Apache-2.0)


Orekit's terrain mapping toolkit -


  • Andrew Muturi