Stunning satellite imagery gives unique view of Leicestershire in all its glory

A rarely seen perspective of the county of Leicestershire has been captured in a new high resolution photograph released by Leicester scientists using a state-of-the-art satellite for the first time.

Our Earth Observation scientists took advantage of the minimal cloud cover during Boxing Day to capture this shot of the county in all its glory from 786 km overhead.

The image was taken by the multi-spectral imager on the Sentinel-2a satellite. The Sentinel-2 data provide images at up to 10m resolution, so it is possible to pick out large-scale features of Leicester in the image, such as our University, the Leicester City Football Club and Leicester Tigers stadia, the M1 motorway, Bradgate Park and the white roofs of industrial units.

The image was produced by Dr David Moore from the National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), based in the Leicester Institute for Space and Earth Observation, as a test of new software that has been developed to make use of the data from Sentinel-2.

Dr Moore said: “We have a system in the Earth Observation Science Group that collects data in almost near-real time and I connect with other users of the system on dedicated forums to discuss and share software and new data developments.

“My own area of research mainly involves studying atmospheric composition using satellite instruments such as the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Radiometer (IASI) and I’m particularly interested in studying gases emitted from forest fires and the effects on atmospheric chemistry. Imagery produced by Sentinel-2 can be used to identify regions which show signs of burning and also the extent of the burning. Coupling this information with land type classification maps and atmospheric composition measurements from IASI, we can deduce the type of vegetation which has burned and critically test emission inventories used in Earth system modelling.

“The NCEO is also interested in expanding its work to look at what satellite data can provide in terms of flood mapping (at times a major issue for the UK) and this is something that Sentinel-2 can help with."

The Sentinel-2 satellites (2a and 2b) will operate simultaneously. The first was launched in June 2015, the second is planned for March 2017. They are in what are known as sun synchronous orbits at 786 km and cross the equator at 10:30am local time.

The Sentinel-2 data provide a number of benefits. Monitoring land cover change (i.e changes to forests, burnt area) are the main uses, but there are also agricultural applications to the data such as crop monitoring and the data can be used to produce carbon mass estimations.

The image, including prominent features of Leicestershire, is available below: