Can solargraphy provide quantitative data?

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Offline Johnny Ola

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Can solargraphy provide quantitative data?
« on: 31/10/2013 12:14:18 »
Solargraphy is extremely long exposure photography. I was wondering if cameras could be set up on say, on satellites, and at different elevations around the planet, to take combined, long term photographs of the entire planet, portions of nature, and, more importantly, human populations.

If we had a photograph showing human activity over the course of say 10 years, it would probably be blurred beyond recognition, but what if we used high resolution, or even a 10-year video being sped up to a speed of minutes, would we be able to retrieve data from the different patterns of motions?

I was wondering if things like this might be able to provide statistical data about everything, provided we have technology capable of picking up enough detail, which could then be used to make predictions.


Offline evan_au

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Re: Can solargraphy provide quantitative data?
« Reply #1 on: 31/10/2013 20:18:58 »
A satellite orbits the Earth - so unless the satellite is in a geosynchronous orbit, the spinning Earth would render a long exposure (eg 6 months) as a light blue blur.

Even from low-Earth orbit, you would need a rather large camera to see the effects of humans during the daytime; night is easier, as illuminated cities can be easily spotted from space. (I have seen photos taken from the Space Shuttle a number of years apart, and the effects of rainforest clearing could be seen in the images.)

There are plenty of videos taken from the Space Shuttle and ISS, eg

On a more local scale, there are projects using the GPS on taxis to map the intensity of taxi activities over the course of a day. Similar projects are looking at daily flows in and out of a city, to improve transport infrastructure, using GPS receivers on smartphones.