European Space Imaging Presents

Sensor Stories


This webpage is an interactive “Story Map” made to be viewed on a desktop or laptop.

Please feel free to browse the rest of our mobile-friendly site and visit this page again in the future with another device.

European Space Imaging Presents

Sensor Stories


This interactive page works best on Chrome

Every satellite has a life. From the nail-biting launch to the most challenging collections and finally, the eventual decommissioning. Join us as we share the story of QuickBird.

See the world through the eyes of QuickBird

Scroll to Top

Costa Concordia Disaster

 Isola del Giglio, Italy

Image Date:  21 JAN 2012

The Costa Concordia shipwreck tragically took the lives of 32 passengers and led to new safety policies in the cruise line industry.

Images like this one documenting the accident played a key role in the expansion of modern European maritime surveillance activities.

© Maxar Technologies

The greatest party on earth

Black Rock Desert, USA

Image Date:  3 SEPT 2010

Since 1991, the Burning Man Festival has been inviting people from all over the world to come together yearly in the middle of the desert to build a community focused on ten principles including self-expression, communal effort, and decommodification.

© Maxar Technologies

Burj Khalifa becomes the tallest building in the world

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Image Date:  28 OCT 2011

Completed in 2009 after 5 years of construction, the 829 meter tower stands as a feat to modern architecture and engineering. 

© Maxar Technologies

The Boxing Day Tsunami

Banda Aceh, Indonesia

Image Date:  28 DEC 2004

On 26 December 2004, a 9.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra caused tsunamis that devasted coastlines all over the Indian Ocean.

Of the 227,000 deaths in 14 countries, the city of Banda Aceh reported the most in addition to losing over 60% of its buildings.

© Maxar Technologies

"the smoke that thunders"

Livingstone, Zambia

Image Date:  27 AUG 2004

Considered the world’s largest waterfall based on combined width and height, Victoria Falls has been captivating natives, explorers, and tourists for 20,000 years…. a relatively short amount of time in geological terms.

© Maxar Technologies

"La dame de fer"

Paris, France

Image Date:  27 MAR 2002

Originally only meant to stand for 20 years as a temporary structure for the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower has become a symbol of the city. 

In the year 2002, when this image was taken, it received its 200 millionth visitor and took its place as the most visited tourist attraction in the world.

© Maxar Technologies

The Great Barrier Reef

Coral Sea, Australia

Image Date:  8 SEP 2009

The largest coral system and biggest structure ever built by living organisms, The Great Barrier Reef is an important part of Australia’s ecosystem and the history of indigenous peoples.

Today, it is estimated that over half of the reef’s corals have been lost since 1985.

© Maxar Technologies

The Pyramids at Giza

Cairo, Egypt

Image Date:  2 Feb 2002

This complex of stunning pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo includes The Great Pyramid of Giza – the oldest and the only still standing of the Ancient Wonders of the World.

Its alignment to the stars and cardinal directions along with its massive scale has historians perplexed to this day.

© Maxar Technologies

Mission Complete!

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Image Date:  17 DEC 2014

After 13 years in orbit, 70,000 trips around Earth, and 636 million square kilometers of Very High Resolution imagery, QuickBird captured its final image over South Africa. Shortly after, it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, having completed its mission beyond expectation and helping to reshape how we see our planet.

© Maxar Technologies

DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill

Gulf of Mexico, USA

Image Date:  26 April 2010

In late April of 2010, the oil drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Mexico causing the largest marine oil spill in history.

Satellite imagery proved crucial in the tracking and cleanup of this massive oil slick whose environmental effects are still felt to this day.

© Maxar Technologies


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Image Date:  14 Jun 2014

Originally built for the 1950 FIFA World Cup in which Brazil lost to Uruguay in the deciding match, the Maracanã Stadium would eventually go on to host another final match in the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2016 Olympics.

© Maxar Technologies

New Insights on Infrastructure

Odessa, Ukraine

Image Date:  9 OCT 2002

QuickBird’s ability to capture 4 band imagery at 61 cm helped usher in an era of new remote sensing applications for industries ranging from agriculture to energy infrastructure monitoring. 

© Maxar Technologies

Architecture of ResNet34-UNet model

UNet architecture for semantic segmentation with ResNet34 as encoder or feature extraction part. ResNet34 is used as an encoder or feature extractor in the contracting path and the corresponding symmetric expanding path predicts the dense segmentation output.

Architecture of VGG16-UNet model

UNet architecture for semantic segmentation with VGG16 as the encoder or feature extractor. VGG16 is used as an encoder or feature extractor in the contracting path and the corresponding symmetric expanding path predicts the dense segmentation output.

Architecture of ResNet34-FCN model

In this model, ResNet34 is used for feature extraction and the FCN operation remains as is. The feature of ResNet architecture is exploited where just like VGG, as the number of filters double, the feature map size gets halved. This gives a similarity to VGG and ResNet architecture while supporting deeper architecture and addressing the issue of vanishing gradients while also being faster. The fully connected layer at the output of ResNet34 is not used and instead converted to fully convolutional layer by means of 1×1 convolution.

Architecture of VGG16-FCN model

In this model, VGG16 is used for feature extraction which also performs the function of an encoder. The fully connected layer of the VGG16 is not used and instead converted to fully convolutional layer by means of 1×1 convolution.