Satellite Overlays in Google Earth – The CEOS Visualization Environment

Are you planning a remote sensing mission? Do you want to see the coverage of different satellite instruments before acquiring imagery or conducting your fieldwork? If so, then it’s definitely worth exploring the CEOS Visualization Environment (COVE) tool to visualize where and when different instruments are observing your study area.


COVE is “a browser-based system that leverages Google-Earth to display satellite sensor coverage areas and identify coincidence scene locations.” It is a collaborative project developed by the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) Working Group on Calibration and Validation and the NASA CEOS System Engineering Office (SEO). The COVE tool is available online at:

The COVE web portal includes a suite of three main tools for planning remote sensing missions: the core COVE tool, which provides visualizations of instrument coverage; the Rapid Acquisition Tool, which allows users to identify and predict when sensors will cover specified study areas; and the Mission and Instrument Browser, which provides descriptions of the hundreds of different missions and instruments included in the COVE database.

So what can COVE do for you? As example, let’s assume you want to acquire coincident Landsat-8 and WorldView-2 imagery over the reefs of southwestern Puerto Rico later this year. You can use COVE to calculate when and where instrument coverage will overlap, and hence schedule your associated fieldwork and other mission planning accordingly. In this example, as shown here, Landsat-8 and WorldView-2 will overlap southwestern Puerto Rico on Nov-25-2013.


Ground swaths for Landsat-8 (left) and WorldView-2 (right) on Nov-25-2013


Ground swath overlap for Landsat-8 and WorldView-2 on Nov-25-2013 in southwestern Puerto Rico

As you would expect, COVE includes many other options. Among these is the ability to incorporate different overlays, such as average annual and monthly cloud cover and precipitation, as well as simultaneously display up to four globes at a time. Additionally, results can also be saved and exported to STK, KML, and as a 2D global image. Given its usefulness and versatility, COVE has definitely found a permanent home in our mission planning toolbox.


Global ground swath for Landsat-8 on Nov-25-2013

About CEOS: “Established in 1984, the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) coordinates civil space-borne observations of the Earth.  Participating agencies strive to enhance international coordination and data exchange and to optimize societal benefit. Currently, 53 members and associate members made up of space agencies, national, and international organizations participate in CEOS planning and activities.”

For more on CEOS:

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