Amazon Web Services hosts Nasa climate-change images in the cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) follows up pledge to support climate change research by publishing 85,000 Nasa images in the cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has reinforced its commitment to supporting climate change research by making thousands of up-to-date images of the Earth available through its cloud storage services.

The cloud giant pledged to host up to one petabyte of data from Landsat – an Earth observation programme set up by Nasa – in December 2014 on its Amazon S3 online storage service, as part of its contribution to the US government’s climate research efforts.

It also hopes sharing this data will pave the way for innovations in the way humanitarian relief is delivered to countries in need, and help them develop disaster preparedness strategies.

In a blog post announcing the move, Jed Sundwall, open data technical business manager at AWS, explained: “Because of Landsat’s global purview and long history, it has become a reference point for all Earth observation work and is considered the gold standard of natural resource satellite imagery.

“It is the basis for research and applications in many global sectors, including agriculture, cartography, geology, forestry, regional planning, surveillance and education. Many of our customers’ work couldn’t be done without Landsat.”

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Researchers' access to Landsat 8 images

As a result, the company has now released 85,000 Landsat images, captured by the programme’s newest satellite, Landsat 8.

This vessel uses visible, infrared, near-infrared and thermal-infrared light to gather data about the Earth’s surface.

“Because the imagery is available on AWS, researchers and software developers can use any of our on-demand services to perform analysis and create new products without needing to worry about storage or bandwidth costs,” Sudwell said.

Since announcing the data-publication drive, AWS has been working with a number of firms to work out how best to host the information on its infrastructure, and to explore the use cases for it.

This has resulted in organisations creating dynamic maps of the world, based on the Landsat 8 data, or using it support the exploration work of their own satellites.

AWS isn’t alone in using its global reach and infrastructure to support humanitarian relief efforts – cloud rival Google has previously made its mapping technology freely available to landmine clearing organisations.

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