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Last update: March 21, 2017

Discover our video Imaging the Earth for a better protection.

To watch the video in HD, ckick here

From a vantage point 36,000 km above the equator, geostationary observatory satellites have their lenses continuously trained on the same section of the Earth. Closer to the ground, at an altitude of between 500 and 800 km, polar satellites scan our planet in successive bands until they have covered the entire Earth. Just a few kilometres above our heads, aeroplanes patrol the landscape and even closer than that, we have drones detecting the tiniest details of our plots of land.

All of these platforms are equipped with sophisticated instruments that are considerably more powerful than our eyes. They are capable of detecting the radiation emitted by the Earth's surface or reflected in a wide range of wavelengths (visible light, infrared light, microwave radiation, etc.). Based on the spectral response that is acquired in this way, we can obtain information about a constantly growing number of parameters that are useful for climate studies. If we enter this information into Geographical Information Systems, it results in maps that are indispensable tools for assessment and warnings in numerous fields: agriculture, atmospheric chemistry, epidemiology, forestry, risk management, hydrology, meteorology, oceanography, urban planning, etc.

STEREO, the National Research Programme for Earth Observation of the Federal Science Policy Office is funding research projects in remote sensing. The scientific teams are exploring the possibilities for extracting valuable information for decision-making from satellite or aerial materials. This movie illustrates a number of the topics that are covered by the programme: volcanic hazard management in the area of Goma, biotope mapping for Natura 2000 sites, assessment of the water quality in estuaries, automatic update of built-up areas in Belgium and sub-Saharan Africa, monitoring vegetation on a global scale, the probable presence of disease vectors, monitoring the expansion of areas in Brussels that are impervious to water, monitoring crop growth and yield forecasting, and estimating the extent to which the population is exposed to atmospheric pollutants.

Happy BEarthday STEREO !

2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Belgian Research Programme for Earth Observation.
A long history summarized for you in 5 minutes through this little animation. 

Satellite images show us the Earth in a different way. But what can those images teach us? How can we extract the information hidden within? To address those questions, the Belgian government launched 30 years ago its first national research programme for Earth observation under the name TELSAT. A few pioneer scientists started studying how to use those images for some applications such as agriculture, forestry and urban mapping.

Today, remote sensing has become an indispensable tool for a large variety of applications in all sectors of society. Belgium has developed a vibrant remote sensing community, with an internationally acknowledged expertise in the field of satellite Earth observation. TELSAT has become STEREO (Support to the Exploitation and Research in Earth Observation) which is now in its third phase. Together, Belgian researchers and STEREO programme managers are ready to tackle the challenges of the future.

The STEREO programme is managed by the Space Research and Applications Directorate of the Belgian Science Policy office. If you want to know more about the STEREO programmes, please visit our website Belgian Earth Observation Platform and/or have a look at our STEREO II final publication.