NEO News

NEO Analysis in 10 Easy Steps

Would you like to explore satellite data yourself? The new NEO analysis tool provides an easy way to compare imagery online and this new blog series highlights different Earth science concepts by pairing an introductory video with an investigation of relevant satellite imagery found here. After you’ve learned the steps, you can try these examples for yourself:




Here are the basic steps to follow. Try it now!

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Analysis Tool Development Update

I get plenty of email from users who are still trying to wrestle with the Java version of the analysis tool on the NEO website. (If you are one of those please consult our instructions, but also read on.) I get an equal number asking about the status of a replacement for the Java version.

So, an update is due: We are currently in the process of developing a replacement for the Java analysis tool. It will be 100% HTML/Javascript and will not require any plugins or other software aside from your modern browser. As of now I think I can safely say that it will be ready and deployed on the site in the early part of 2017. Once that is completed, the Java-based tool will be retired permanently.

Thank you all for your continued patience. This has been a long time coming.

Update, February 13, 2017: The new version analysis tool is in place on the site now and ready for testing. I have noticed a few quirks so we are working to address those, but in the meantime, please feel free to test it and let me know how it works for you.

New Dataset: Sea Surface Temperature 1998+ (1 day MWOI)

Sea Surface Temperature (MWOI)

We have just added a new sea surface temperature dataset to replace the similar data from the defunct AMSR-E instrument aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite. This replacement dataset is a composite from multiple microwave-based sensors (also including AMSR-E) but includes a longer temporal span, beginning in 1998 and continuing to the present.

Read more about this dataset and download imagery on NEO.

Special thanks go out to Remote Sensing Systems for their assistance.

New Dataset: UV Index

UV Index

The UV Index is a measure of the intensity of ultraviolet (UV) rays from the Sun. Some exposure to the Sun’s rays is beneficial as it helps our bodies produce vitamin D. But too much exposure to UV rays can have harmful effects. In the short-term, skin exposed to UV rays can burn. A ‘sunburn’ can happen within minutes or over the course of several hours. Over the long term, UV exposure can result in premature aging, skin cancer, and damage to your eyes.

These climatology maps are produced using data collected between October 2004 and January 2011 from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) onboard the Aura satellite.

View all the images and read more about this dataset on NEO.

Java and NEO Analysis

If you are a user of the analysis tool in NEO (also known as the Image Composite Explorer, or ICE), you may have noticed that after you installed the latest Java update (Java 7 Update 51) the analysis tool no longer works. Most likely you will see a pop-up error that looks like this:

Java security message

The reason you are seeing this message now is that Oracle has been implementing stricter security measures within Java (which is a good thing) and that means applications that used to work may no longer function. The preferred solution to this is for the application owner (that’s me) to purchase a digital certificate that authenticates the site and that will allow the analysis tool to run in your browser without requiring you to do anything else. However, we do not have that certificate implemented yet (I am working on that). So, in the short term, here is a way to work around this problem.

First, you must be able to access and adjust your Java security settings on your computer. For users who are using computers in a school or an organization that has centralized computer administration, this may be impossible. If that is the case, then there may be no way to get the analysis tool to work until we have the authentication certificate in place.

Locate your Java control panel.

Once the control panel opens, you will see five tabs across the top. When you click on the ‘Security’ tab you will see the following:

Java control panel

From here, click on “Edit Site List” in the lower right and another window will open:

Java add site exception

In this window, click on ‘Add’ and then you can enter the url for the NEO website — — this will give the necessary permissions to the NEO analysis tool so that it can run. Once you have entered the url you will also see a warning about running using HTTP. In this case, NEO is only available via HTTP so you can accept this warning.

After you have added the NEO URL, you may click ‘OK’ to complete the process.

Once you have completed all of these steps, the NEO analysis tool will work for you. You have only granted permissions to the NEO website itself, you have not reduced your security level for any other sites.

I will continue to work to resolve this issue with the certification process so that the above is no longer necessary. Until that time, however, you will need to enable the exception as documented above.

Data-like File Formats: CSV and floating point GeoTIFFs

In addition to the standard file formats that we support in NEO—JPEG, PNG, GeoTIFF, and GoogleEarth—many (not all) datasets support two additional “data-like” formats: CSV (comma-separated values) and floating point GeoTIFF. When you choose one of these formats for download, there are a few details that should be taken into consideration.

  • The values that these files contain have been scaled and resampled for visualization purposes in NEO and should not be considered for rigorous scientific examination. At best they are useful for basic analysis and trend detection but if you are interested in conducting research-level science we recommend that you use the original source data (which are not hosted by NEO, but we can assist you in identifying the source).
  • CSV files can get quite large at full resolution. For example, a 3600×1800 CSV file can get to around 61MB. If your software has difficulty opening a file of that size then please select a smaller resolution (e.g., 1440×720).
  • There are two flavors of CSV available in NEO:
    1. “Regular” CSV which includes the text-only values at the resolution the user specifies. This format is suitable for Excel (2007 and later) and many other applications.
    2. “CSV for Excel” In Excel versions prior to 2007, worksheets could not support more than 256 columns. To remedy this, this format option is resized to 250×125. The first row contains the longitude values for the center of the cell and the first column contains the latitudes.
  • Floating point GeoTIFFs contain 32-bit numerical data along with the geolocation information that is standard for the Geo format. These files can also get large as they are not internally compressed—e.g., a 3600×1800 GeoTIFF can be around 25MB.

These formats are not available by default on our ftp site but if you are interested in obtaining a long time series of a dataset in one of these formats, please contact us and we can perform a customized export to the ftp site in the format you need.

New Dataset: Nitrogen Dioxide

OMI NO2 October 2013

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a gas that occurs naturally in our atmosphere. NO2 plays an important role in the formation of ozone in the air we breathe. Ozone high in the atmosphere helps us. It is like sunscreen, and it protects us from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the Sun. Near the ground though, ozone is a pollutant. It damages our lungs and harms plants, including the plants we eat. Ozone occurs naturally in the air we breathe, but there’s not enough of it to hurt us. Unhealthy levels of ozone form when there is a lot of NO2 in the air. NO2—and ozone—concentrations are usually highest in cities, since NO2 is released into the atmosphere when we burn gas in our cars or coal in our power plants, both things that happen more in cities. Ozone pollution is worse in summer. NO2 is also unhealthy to breathe in high concentrations, such as on busy streets and highways where there are lots of cars and trucks. When driving, it is typically a good idea to keep the car windows rolled up and the car's ventilation set to “recirculate” so as to keep pollution out of the interior of the car. It is also important to reduce outdoor activities like playing or jogging if government officials warn you that air quality will be bad on a certain day.

These maps are produced using data from The Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI), on board NASA's Aura satellite and are available in daily, weekly, and monthly composites from October 2004 to the present.

View all the images and read more about this dataset on NEO.

New Dataset: Sea Surface Salinity

Sea Surface Salinity (Aquarius)

The ocean’s salinity is key to studying the water cycle and ocean circulation, both of which are important to Earth’s climate. Differences in salinity play a major role in moving seawater around the globe. Below the wind-blown ocean surface, salinity and temperature drive circulation by controlling the “density” (mass per unit volume) of seawater. The weight of dissolved salt increases water’s density and when salinities are equal, colder water is denser than warmer water. In addition to moving salt and water, density-driven circulation is crucial to moving heat around our planet. The movement of heat by our ocean—for example, from the equator to the poles—is crucial to keeping Earth’s climate “just right.”

These maps are produced using data from the Aquarius instrument onboard the AQUARIUS/SAC-D satellite, a collaborative effort between NASA and the Argentinian Space Agency Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE) and are available in NEO in weekly and monthly composites.

View all the images and read more about this dataset on NEO.

Welcome to new NEO!

If you have been a user of NEO in the past you will, no doubt, notice many changes to the website. After many years (nearly 8!) we finally have a new look and have made several improvements to the navigation and functionality. That being said, much of the flow of the site is relatively unchanged. So let’s take a look at a couple redesigned elements of the dataset view page, which is one of the main functions of the site. (See this example for the full view.)

Starting below the main image, you will see the ability to toggle between different variations of the dataset. These variations will differ depending on which dataset you are viewing and for many the “View by satellite” toggle will not be relevant. Clicking on any of these buttons will both change the image above and the calendar view below.

View by... options

Image download options
Download options

Currently viewing: At the top of the download options block you will see the date of the image you are currently viewing. The date may be either a year, a month + year, a single day, or a date range, depending upon what dataset you are viewing.

Downloads: This is where you can choose the format, size, and color of the image you would like to download. Select the desired file type from the list (for more information about the types of files that are available, click on the “i” help button next to “Downloads”), whether you want the image in color, as you see it on the page, or in grayscale, which can be useful for applying your own color palettes. Once you have made those selections, click on the dimensions you want (e.g., 360 x 180) and you can download the image.

Download Raw Data: If the source data file for this particular dataset is available online there will be a direct link to it here. These files can be in a variety of formats and are hosted by various data providers, not by NEO. We can help point you to the data owners if you have questions but otherwise we cannot provide support for these types of data.

Calendar view
Depending upon the dataset you are viewing, you will see one of three different types of calendar views on the page (the daily view is shown below). Use the blue slider to navigate between the time periods in the given year and the “Select Year” drop-down just above the calendars to change the year. Blue links will change the image shown when clicked. The calendar menus greatly improve your ability to browse the entire collection by date. The old way was a nightmare, I know; thank you all for your patience.

Browse by day calendar

We hope that you like the new look of NEO and if you have any questions about the site please be sure to leave us a comment here or get in touch through our contact form.

Washington Post Snow Cover Visualization

The Washington Post featured imagery from NEO as part of their visualization illustrating changes in snow cover since 2010.

Snow Cover Visualization (Washington Post)

View Timelapse: A look at where snow has fallen at the Washington Post.

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