Satellite photos taken from miles above the earth don’t just provide tranquil images of the world below – they also help researchers and scientists track everything from climate change to agricultural output.
On Saturday morning, the French Cultural Center in cooperation with Sana’a University, Yemen, presented an exhibition of satellite photos along with information to encourage aspiring scientists to use such technology. The photo show, called “The Earth Viewed From Above,” will be on display at the Jamal Abdul Nasser exposition room at the old University of Sana’a campus until May 28 and then after that at the French Cultural Center in Sana’a.
“There is a lot natural impact: the tsunami, earthquakes, climate change and environmental pollution problems,” said Dr. Abdulkarim Al-Subarry, professor of sedimentology and vice rector of student affairs for the university. “From these satellite images, the faculty and students can better understand how to use technology in their field.”
Dr. Khaled Khanbari, who helps run the satellite imaging department in the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology, agreed that digital aerial photos like the ones on display can better all kinds of work from urban planning to farming by tracking the earth’s environmental changes from above. “Satellites can take photos of the whole earth in 18 days,” said Khanbari, referring to a satellite’s ability to rotate quickly around the globe. He added that when satellites first came into use in the 1970s, their photos could only clearly observe 75 meters at a time. Now, satellite technology has improved to the point where it can photograph down to 60 centimeters with clarity – a huge improvement that has global benefits. “This is much easier to make an archive of images that follow the changes in the land,” said Khanbari. Though Yemen currently has no satellites of its own, it does have a receiving station where it gathers images from different satellites circling the earth. Khanbari, who is the vice chairman of the Yemen Remote Sensing and GIS Center, said that though it’s under construction, the center has already been in use for two years. The “GIS” in the center’s name stands for “Geographical Foundation System,” according to Khanbari.
He added that satellite photos can use infrared light to sense vegetation growth, something that the naked eye is unable to perceive. In addition, digital images taken by satellite are delivered in pixels, which can be processed separately to yield finely-tuned information.
Joël Dechezlepretre, the director of the French Cultural Center, said that France is happy to share its satellite technology with Yemeni science students, researchers and professors. He added that there might be additional aerial photos of Yemen, which wasn’t featured specifically in any of the pictures at Sana’a University available on view, when the show moves to the French Cultural Center in June.
Gilles Gauthier, the French ambassador to Yemen, co-sponsored the event with Khaled Tamim, the president of Sana’a University.