The morning light has not yet dawned. However, Google Maps shows a 40-kilometer-long traffic jam from Belgorod, Russia, to the Ukrainian border. Considering the moment, the matter is unusual. Yet to understand, he understood. Jeffrey Lewis. “Somewhat on the move,” he wrote on Twitter. He hinted that the Russian army had begun to advance.
Jeffrey is a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, USA. He estimated that Russia had invaded Ukraine at around 3:15 am local time on February 24. Although not quite sure, he took four in two. This is because he had seen the Russian military tent earlier in the day in a radar image sent by commercial satellite service provider Capella Space.
Where the problem of using satellite images in war
Satellite images of Russian military movements are being leaked to the media, and the Ukrainian government is using them to determine its war strategy. However, satellite imagery supplied by commercial companies such as Maxer and Blacksky is not working to deter Russian forces. The first reason is that the pictures are not real time. If you want, you can’t find satellite images of specific places in the world right now.
The second reason is that the sky in Ukraine is usually cloudy at this time of year. And conventional satellites of commercial establishments can send visual images as well as infrared images. This means that if the sky is covered with clouds or the picture taken in the dark of night will not be useful. That’s what Ukrainian entrepreneur Max Poliakov says over and over again. In his words, satellite imagery is urgently needed and free of charge to prevent Russian aggression. He will then analyze the image through his organization EOS Data Analytics and submit it to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
“We have enough fighters … we have enough capability to resist the Russian forces on our border,” Polyakov told reporters on February 26. We just don’t know where they will come from. Without it we are blind at night. Because we do not have enough intelligence.
Although images of organizations like Maxar are suitable for use in the media, Poliakov thinks they are not enough to overwhelm their opponents. He needs instant information. That’s why companies that are able to provide ‘radar-images’ are now in high demand. Because, radar-images are equally effective at night, clouds do not interfere.
Radar-images work in any weather
Bangladeshi teacher Ashraf Dewan uses such radar data for research. He is currently teaching at Curtin University in Australia. He said in the first light about the type of radar-image creation, the difference between the synthetic aperture radar satellite and other satellites is that it works in any weather. Using the active sensor, it provides almost instant information.
Using light reflection to capture images on a smartphone’s camera, conventional satellite imagery technology is much closer. However, radar-images have to be used to create images using wave reflection data. Is that picture equally effective? Is it possible to tell by looking at the radar image that three tanks are now advancing north, three kilometers from Kiev? Ashraf Dewan said, possible. It is possible to say precisely. However, radar imagery is not commonly used except in special cases as it is very expensive.
Why Ukraine wants radar-images
As mentioned earlier, not just researchers. The Ukrainian government also wants this information. In support of Max Polyakov’s statement, Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Fedorov called on eight radar-image providers on Twitter. “We need opportunities to monitor the movements of Russian troops, especially at night when our technology is not working,” he said.
Todd Humphreys, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas in the United States, thinks that a total of 50 satellites are now working on Ukraine.
There are many questions
The kind of satellite imagery that commercial companies are now providing was once only available to the government. However, in the interest of privacy, they did not publish all the pictures. That fact must be taken into account. ” Many researchers around the world have called for a review of whether or not commercial enterprises are losing control.
In addition, there is less opportunity to verify satellite images. “We don’t have the capabilities that many countries have,” said Payam Banajadah, the organization’s chief executive officer, in an interview. We are a commercial organization. If we have pictures, anyone can buy them. ‘
That is also clear in the words of Ashraf Dewan. He said the information from the SAR satellite was being used only in special cases. Most of the time but used in research. This information is available only if you spend money without it.
What will Russia talk about?
Capella Space, however, says it is currently providing radar images of Ukraine only to Ukraine and the US government. There is danger here too. Because Russia does not seem to be sitting still. First, cyber attacks and eavesdropping can capture or distort this information. Second, Russia demonstrated in November that it had destroyed a satellite by launching a missile. If necessary, where is the chance to say for sure that they will not carry out similar attacks on US satellites?
One thing needs to be clarified at the end of writing. Professor Jeffrey Lewis noticed an unusual “traffic jam” on Google Maps in the early hours of February 24 and speculated that Russian troops had set out to invade Ukraine. He wasn’t sure. Because, on the battlefield, military personnel will use smartphones to prove their presence on Google Maps, not to make such a big mistake for Russian troops. Jeffrey himself gave a possible explanation. Google Maps has shown that the traffic jam is due to the obstruction of the Russian army by the general public. In addition, after the announcement of Vladimir Putin, the attack started from Danbas in eastern Ukraine.