To TEDx Speaking and Beyond!

Back in April I received an invitation to speak at the ‘One Step Beyond’ TEDx event organised at the National Space Centre in Leicester, with my focus on the Blue Economy and Earth Observation (EO).

We’ve been to a few TEDx events in the past and they’ve always been great, and so I was excited to have the opportunity to join this community. Normally, I’m pretty relaxed about public speaking. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to say, but don’t assemble my slides until a couple of days beforehand. This approach has developed in part because I used to lecture – where I got used to talking for a while with a few slides – but also because I always like to take some inspiration from the overall mood of the event I’m talking at. This can be through hearing other speakers, attending workshops or even just walking around the local area.

TEDx, however, was different. There was a need to have the talk ready early for previewing and feedback, alongside producing stunning visuals and having a key single message. So, for a change, I started with a storyboard.

My key idea was to get across the sense of wonder I and many other scientists share in observing the oceans from space, whilst also emphasising that anyone can get involved in protecting this natural resource. I echoed the event title by calling my talk “Beyond the blue ocean” as many people think of the ocean as just a blue waterbody. However, especially from space, we can see the beauty, and complexity, of colour variations influenced by the microscopic life and substances dissolved and suspended within it.

I began with an with an image called the ‘Pale Blue Dot’ that was taken by Voyager 1 at a distance of more than 4 billion miles from Earth, and then went with well-known ‘Blue Marble’ image before zooming into what we see from more conventional EO satellites. I also wanted to take the audience beyond just optical wavelengths and so displayed microwave imagery from Sentinel-1 that’s at a similar spatial resolution to my processed 15 m resolution Sentinel-2 data that was also shown.

Dr Samantha Lavender speaking at the One Step Beyond TEDx event in Leicester. Photo courtesy of TEDxLeicester

The satellite imagery included features such as wind farms, boats and phytoplankton blooms I intended to discuss. However, this didn’t quite to go to plan on my practice run through! The talk was in the planetarium at the National Space Centre, which meant the screen was absolutely huge – as you can see in the image to the right. However, with the lights on in the room the detail in the images was really difficult to see. The solution for the talk itself was to have the planetarium in darkness and myself picked out by two large spotlights, meaning that the image details were visible to the audience but I couldn’t see the audience myself.

The evening itself took place on the 21st September, and with almost two hundred in the audience I was up first. I was very happy with how it went and the people who spoke to me afterwards said they were inspired by what they’d seen. You can see for yourself, as the talk can be found here on the TEDx library. Let me know what you think!

I was followed by two other fantastic speakers who gave inspiring presentations and these are also up on the TEDx Library. Firstly, Dr Emily Shuckburgh, Deputy Head of Polar Oceans team at British Antarctic Survey discussed “How to conduct a planetary health check”; and she was followed by Corentin Guillo, CEO and Founder of Bird.i, who spoke about “Space entrepreneurship, when thinking outside the box is not enough”.

The whole event was hugely enjoyable and the team at TEDx Leicester did an amazing job of organising it. It was good to talk to people after the event, and it was fantastic that seventy percent of the audience were aged between 16 and 18. We need to do much more of this type of outreach activities to educate and inspire the next generation of scientists. Of course, for me, the day also means that I can now add TEDx Speaker to my biography!

Pixalytics: Five Years & Thriving!

Background Image: Sutichak Yachaingham / 123 Stock Photo

The start of June marked the five-year anniversary of Pixalytics!

For a small start-up business, like ours, five years is an important milestone. Depending on which you report you believe only around 50%, or even 40%, of new small business survive their five years! So we should definitely celebrate the fact that we’re still here!

The last twelve months have been successful for us. Our key highlights have included:

  • Continuing to grow our income year-on-year
  • Expanded our team to five, soon to be six, employees – which is a 100% increase over the last year!
  • Moved to a new office on Plymouth Science Park
  • Part of a consortium developing a Drought and Flood Mitigation Service (DFMS) in Uganda.
  • Secured our first European Contract and so now we are exporters!

It has been a lot of hard work, but we’re really pleased with what we’ve achieved.

In a similar blog last year, we wrote about our target of releasing an innovative series of automated Earth Observation products and services. You’ll have noticed that this is not listed in our highlights, as despite our efforts we’ve not managed to do this … yet.

We have made significant progress with our eStore. We have a number of products almost ready to go, the product interface has been developed and we’re currently developing the front end eCommerce website. We’re intending to go live with flooding, turbidity and ocean colour products. So watch this space, things will be happening later this year – we hope!

Launching the products is really the easy bit, the difficult part will be getting people to buy them and this a challenge which firms much larger than us are still to effectively solve. As a small business we tend to market through our website, social media and the odd exhibition. However, we’ll need to come up with some new cost-effective innovative ideas for our eStore if it is to be successful. We’re also participating in Europe wide projects established by EARSC and the Copernicus World Alliance looking at ways of developing the market and promoting Earth Observation products and services.

For the last couple of years we’ve quoted a phrase from ‘Worstward Ho’, a monologue by Samuel Beckett which is ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’

This sums up our approach. We try things. If they don’t work out, we try something else. It’s worked okay so far.

Before we leave our five year celebration, we wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of the people who’ve helped us along our journey, including the readers of our blog.

Let’s hope we’re still here in another five years!

UKSEDS National Student Space Conference 2017

The 2017 UKSEDS National Student Space Conference took place last weekend at the University of Exeter and I was delighted to be asked to give a presentation.

UKSEDS, the acronym of the ‘UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space’, is a charity dedicated to running events for space students and graduates. It is the UK branch of global community who have the aim of promoting space, space exploration and research.

The National Student Space Conference is in its 29th year, and 2017 was the first time I’d attended. I began the Saturday morning with a panel discussion on Exploration versus Exploitation with Dr David Parker from the European Space Agency, Cathrine Armour who leads the South West Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications and Andy Bacon from Thales Alenia Space UK.

One of the key points raised in the panel surrounded the topic’s title, and that it wasn’t a contest between exploration and exploitation, but rather that exploration is generally followed up with exploitation e.g. even in the 19th and 20th century explorations were politically motivated. However exploration is risky, and so it may be difficult to produce favourable outcomes that can be exploited.

Traditionally, commercial organisations were risk averse and therefore exploration has often been supported by public bodies. The exploitation came later from commercial organisations, but there’s now an increased appetite for risk through venture and crowd funding with space being a particular focus.

We also have hindsight of how we’ve altered planet Earth, and so need to apply this to space where we’ve completed our first survey of the solar system. Exploitation may not be far away as there are companies already aiming to mine asteroids, for example. So alongside investing in science and technology, we also need to invest in the governance to ensure that any future exploitation is undertaken responsibly.

Closer to Earth, it can be considered that we’ve not yet fully exploiting the potential of orbiting satellites. For example, we could use them for generating solar energy as a twenty four hour resource. So whilst exploration does tend to proceed exploitation, in fact it is probably more accurate to say we loop between the two with each providing feedback into the other.

My presentation session was between the coffee break and lunch. I was last up and followed Cathrine Armour, Matt Cosby from Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd and Dr Lucy Berthoud from the University of Bristol & Thales Alenia Space UK. My presentation was on “Innovations in Earth observation” and can be found here.

I particularly enjoyed Lucy’s talk where she posed the question – Is there life on Mars? She also had a crowd pleasing set of practical experiments involving dry ice and a rock from a local beach, which was a bit daunting to follow! Whilst Lucy concluded that Mars has the elements needed for life to exist in terms of nutrients, an energy source and liquid water, any life would likely to be microscopic.

However, there are large costs associated with us visiting Mars to confirm this. Ignoring the obvious cost of the flight, the decontamination aspect is huge. As mission planners have to avoid both forward and backward contamination, i.e., us contaminating Mars and the material brought back contaminating the Earth. This brings us back around to the morning panel and why exploration always tends to come first, supported by national or international bodies.

Overall, I had a great time at the Conference and would wholly recommend any students who have interest in space join UKSEDS. Membership is free and it can give you access to great events, opportunities and contacts. You can join here!

Brexit and the Earth Observation Market

Artist's rendition of a satellite - mechanik/123RF Stock Photo

Artist’s rendition of a satellite – mechanik/123RF Stock Photo

Last week the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU). For us it was sad day, evidenced by the fact that on voting day Sam was at the European Association of Remote Sensing Laboratories (EARSeL) Symposium in Bonn, Germany; and I was in Brussels having attended the European Association of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC) Annual General Meeting the day before – I should say we had both already submitted our postal votes!

This obvious topic for this week is what Brexit means for the UK Space Market, and in turn what it means for us:

European Space Agency (ESA)
ESA is not the EU. It has a different membership and different rules. The UK can remain part of ESA even if it leaves the EU, as evidenced by Norway and Switzerland’s membership, and even Canada’s associate membership.

However, at the ESA Ministerial in December member countries will need to declare how much money they intended to contribute towards ESA programmes. ESA operates a geo-return principle which dictates that countries cannot receive more money back than they put in, and therefore the decision on how much funding to commit at the December meeting will be vital for the UK Space Industry.

At the moment there is a power vacuum in this country following the resignation of the Prime Minister, and it would appear that no major decisions will be made on the future direction of the country until the new Prime Minister is appointed in September. Given the new Prime Minister will want to set up his own Executive arrangements and that the most pressing matter will be Brexit, it is not clear who will be taking the significant decision on the UK’s ESA Contribution.

Lack of commitment at this point has the potential to damage the UK Space Industry far more than Brexit.

European Union
Despite the assertion above that the EU and ESA are different bodies, they are linked organisations. They have a joint European Space Strategy and the EU is the biggest financial contributor to ESA’s budget. In addition, the EU owns a number of programmes such as Copernicus and the Galileo positioning, navigation & timing network.

Outside the EU the UK will probably no longer have a voice within these programmes and it is unlikely the siting of significant infrastructure related to these programmes, such as ground segments, will include this country. Hence, even remaining an active participant within ESA, it is hard to argue against the fact that the UK’s role in the future of the European space industry will diminish.

Single Market
The space industry, like other industries, currently benefits from the single market which makes it easier for European businesses to trade with each other. It is clear that most of our businesses, and politicians, feel that this is a benefit they’d like to keep. The question is whether they will be willing to pay the EU’s price?

If they do, then it is likely that change will be limited. However, if they don’t and the UK leaves the Single Market then trade with Europe will become more difficult. It will of course continue, but there may be tariffs, limitations on exports/imports and the potential for businesses to open or close offices within the UK or Europe to best maintain their access to both the UK and European markets.

Scientific Collaboration
We collaborate with a lot of EU companies, scientists and students. Now again there is no suggestion that this would stop, but everything will become more complicated.

  • How easy and quickly will people be able to get visa to travel to Europe or vice versa? This could impact attendance at meetings or conferences.
  • Will European Conferences still come to the UK?
  • What will be the impact on placement programmes such as ERASMUS? ERASMUS has different membership to the EU, like ESA, but will the UK still be as attractive to those students?

Of real scientific concern is the emerging anecdotal evidence that UK researchers are being removed from EU based funding bids, such as Horizon 2020, as the consortia fear their bids will be less attractive if the UK is involved. If true, this is will impact scientific research, at least in the short term until our involved in such programmes is clarified.

UK Space Industry
The UK has an expanding, exciting and innovative space industry and the future is certainly not dependant on us being part of the EU. However, it would be naïve to suggest that we don’t face challenges ahead following Brexit. There are a number of key elements we need in place to ensure that our industry can continue to thrive:

  1. Commitment to our continued membership of ESA, supported by funding at the December ministerial.
  2. Commitment that the resources the UK Science and Space sectors received via EU funding, such as Horizon 2020, must be replaced with equivalent UK based funding calls.
  3. Not to let the Brexit negotiations overtake everything else. For example, it must not stop continuing progress on elements such as a UK Spaceport.

We have a variety of strong European links including:

  • European contracts
  • Scientific collaboration with European Researchers/Institutes
  • European placement students spending time working with us
  • Contracts that are either directly, or indirectly, based on ESA funding
  • Membership of European Associations

We believe we have a strong business, with good value products and a positive brand. However, like all other UK businesses, we are going to need to assess our current business strategy, and decisions we need to make, through the prism of Brexit as further information is known.

Almost one week on from the UK vote, I think our position is best summed up by paraphrasing the famous statement of US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld:

There are some things we do not know, but there are also things we don’t know we don’t know and those will be the difficult ones.

Or to put it more succinctly, we face months, and years, of uncertainty! What does everyone else think?

Footprints in Remote Sensing

Plymouth Sound on 25th July 2014 from Landsat 8: Image courtesy of USGS/NASA Landsat

Plymouth Sound on 25th July 2014 from Landsat 8: Image courtesy of USGS/NASA Landsat

I’ve just finished my summer with Pixalytics! As I wrote a blog when I first arrived, I thought it would be nice symmetry to finish my ERASMUS+ placement with a second one.

When I started my internship, I had very little real-world experience. I was really excited and really nervous, but this internship has been a huge eye opener for me. I spent the first week understanding and reviewing the practicals within Pixalytics’ forthcoming book ‘The Practical Handbook of Remote Sensing’ to check for any errors prior to publication, which gave me a good understanding of the basics of remote sensing.

Over the next few weeks I applied my new knowledge to finding and downloading Landsat data for a commercial client. I then downloaded additional Landsat datasats and compared them to altimetry datasets to look for patterns between the two sources for the NovaSAR project. My other main job was processing Landsat 8 data to create a UK-wide vegetation mosaic. This needed cloud free images which is really difficult because the weather in UK is always cloudy, even in summer!

Plymouth is a deeply captivating city with astonishingly magnificent views and landscapes. You get the urban city, fantastic scenery and all around Plymouth are nice beaches, cities and the Dartmoor National Park which is always worth a visit. It’s a safe quiet place where everything is so close together that you can walk everywhere. The people are generally friendly and warm-hearted, and the experience of living in the Plymouth for two months has helped me to gain a more fluent level of English and a better understanding of the British culture – I now know why they constantly talk about the weather!

Overall, I’ve learnt a lot from the internship including practical skills that I will be able to carry with me to my next position. Needless to say, I will miss Pixalytics and Plymouth very dearly, and I’m thankful for the chance to work and live there. ERASMUS+ is an great opportunity that everyone should try to be part of, and I totally recommend going abroad because is an experience that stays with you to rest of your life.

Bye Plymouth, Bye Pixalytics!


Blog by Selin Cakaloglu, Erasmus+ Intern at Pixalytics

2015 UK Space Conference Lifts Off

Uk Space 2015We’re at the UK Space Conference 2015 in Liverpool, and exhibiting! The opening day of the conference has been interesting, exciting and bookended by astronauts. The conference’s plenary session began with an upbeat assessment of the UK space industry, and the progress being made on the UK Space Growth Strategy of delivering a £40 bn sector by 2030; we’re currently at £11.8 bn. The plenary also had a presentation from Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut; and the day ended with Tim Peake, Britain’s next astronaut, phoning into the conference from his preparations in Baikonur.

The European Space Agency’s new Director General, Prof Johann-Dietrich Woerner, gave a very inspiring presentation that put space at the heart of society, politics, science and technology and highlighted the need for new ambitions, disruptive technologies and a village on the far side of the moon! Other interesting presentations included Aleksandra Mir & Alice Sharp who explored the collaborations between art and space. Stuart Armstrong from the fantastically named ‘Future of Humanity Institute’ explained how we could colonise the universe, using natural resources from the planet Mercury. Stuart Marsh, from the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, described using a greater range of persistent features (rather than just urban and rocky features as previously used) to provide more complete maps of ground movement from InSAR. A thought provoking session on the use of Earth Observation data within Climate Services took place on day two, particularly on the need to start developing information products, rather than simply providing data and images.

The exhibition has also been positive. We’ve had good conversations with new people, reconnected with some old friends and given talks to groups of schoolchildren who attended as part of the conference’s Outreach / Education Programme.

Pixalytics stand at UK Space Conference

Pixalytics stand at UK Space Conference

At our first exhibition earlier this year, we published ten top tips for first time exhibitors; now we’d like to add an eleventh – Make sure you know whether or not you have a stand? We are not kidding! We’d reserved exhibition space within the Small Business Hub, which included a cocktail table, two stools and space for one pull-up banner. The plan looked like we were all on one big stand with tables distributed throughout; however, when we turned up yesterday we had our own stand complete with walls! This was a surprise to us, and all the other Small Business Hub exhibitors. The surprise was followed by creative thinking, a shopping trip and then we Blue Peter’d our stand! You can judge the results in the picture on the right.

The conference was great, and can’t wait until 2017!

Ten Top Tips for First Time Exhibitors

Pixalytics promotional postcards

Pixalytics promotional postcards

This is the last blog in our quartet covering our first experience of exhibiting; and today we’re going cover the top tips we wish we’d known before arriving at the exhibition.

  1. Know your sizes: We had a 2m by 2m exhibition stand and in addition, we’d bought a furniture package and hired a TV. When we arrived on build day, the furniture and TV stand took up so much space we wondered if we’d get in the stand let alone any potential customers! It looked like we had bought far too much equipment for your stand.
  2. Don’t start stand building too early: We knew our stand would not take hours to build, but wanted to give ourselves plenty of time. Stand building began at 8.00am, and when we arrived at 10.00am the venue was full of construction workers, power tools galore and metal bars that looked like they should be on a bridge somewhere! Just getting to our stand was an obstacle course, so we had a look around Islington in the morning and came back to a quieter exhibition venue in the afternoon.
  3. Have back up plans – We had a stand design in our heads, but it started to unravel immediately. The furniture was bigger than anticipated – see tip one! The stand walls weren’t fixed, they flexed; this meant we could not get enough pressure on the solid canvases to lock the Velcro strips, which were the recommended attachment method. Hence, our canvases would not stay up. (During the exhibition, we saw other exhibitors had attached things by using hooks over the stand walls, giving us a future construction method).After a bit of brainstorming, we used our furniture as display stands instead! It was not our original plan, but worked.
  4. Take a bag of useful items – Having items such as scissors, tape, stapler, bulldog clips, etc, made brainstorming and changing our plans (see tip 3) easier as we had options. For example, we used bulldog clips to hold up our flag bunting.
  5. Movie, not PowerPoint – The hired TV took a memory stick, but only displayed pictures or movies, and not the PowerPoint presentation we’d prepared. We converted the presentation overnight, but needed a little bit of help from the onsite TV people to put it on continuous loop.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up – From previous blogs, you’ll know we’re a small company doing an economical stand, and we were concerned how it would compare with the big companies. Our stand was different, and it looked like no other at the exhibition. It did generate a lot of talk. Our flag bunting split the crowd; some had bunting envy, others didn’t like it. However, it provided a great talking point for visitors – see tip 9.
  7. If you’re stuck, ask for help – All the exhibition organisers, equipment suppliers and venue staff were really helpful, and we got great assistance on everything we asked about including missing table foot, help on setting up the TV (see tip 4) and we’d like to extend a special thank you to Sophie who drew the winner of our prize draw.
  8. Buy less promotional items – On a previous blog we mentioned our decisions on which promotional items to take. The postcards were very successful, the leaflets were useful and the pens were fine (although, almost every stand offered free pens). What we didn’t get right were the quantities, we had bought far too many! Small businesses are resourceful, so the postcards will become our compliment slips and we’ll use the pens in the office … for most of the next decade!
  9. Talk to the visitors – I know it’s an obvious thing to say, but you have talk to people. It’s easy to stand and smile at people as they walk past, but it’s when you start talking to them that things happen. We were able to attract people onto the stand with our postcards and prize draw, and then we could start talking to them, which led to a number of unexpected and interesting conversations and possible leads.
  10. It is tiring!!! – It is exhausting standing around and talking to people all day, particularly when you are more used to being sat in an office. At the end of each day we were delighted to take our shoes off!

So was it worth it? Regularly blog readers will know this has been something we’ve been wondering for our first exhibition.

On the business side we spoke to many people, some we already knew and some we did not; both groups generated conversations and potential leads. The question is whether any of these leads will turn into actual turnover over the coming months.

On the exhibition side, we learnt a lot! We’ve got a small business stand at the 2015 UK Space Conference in Liverpool in July, which is a slightly different approach as we only have a space with a table and chairs, so it will provide an interesting comparison. We look forward to meeting any fellow GEO Business exhibitors also going to Liverpool.

Pareto’s Principle and the Micro-Business

In last week’s blog we talked about the fact that running your own company gives you the freedom to explore your passion, with the flip side of the need to bring in money to pay your salary. Micro-business owners are responsible for everything, and so deciding how you balance your time between competing activities is a challenge.

Scientific research is at the heart of Pixalytics, but I also want to promote science. So for me I have to balance doing the work we have, bringing in new business, my scientific research, running the company and the volunteer roles I do to support the promotion of science; this week I’m in Warsaw attending the 34th EARSeL symposium.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Pareto Principle, originally set out by the Italian economist Alfredo Pareto in 1906 when he observed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the population. The 80/20 rule as it’s also known has been applied across business in a variety of ways. For example:

  • 80% of your sales come from 20% of your products,
  • 80% of software problems are caused by 20% of the bugs; and
  • 20% of your efforts should yield 80% of your results.

As you’ll have probably gathered from our blog I’m someone who likes to do lots of different things; so determining which 20% of my activities I need to focus on would be really useful. Over the last couple of months I’ve been reading ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less ‘ by Greg McKeown which is a variation on the 80/20 principles, but focuses on doing what you’re best at which is also probably what you enjoy most too!

The book’s message struck a chord. It made me realise I need to reduce the number of things I do, so I can focus and concentrate my effort on key tasks; essentially simplifying my life. These things are easy to say, but some of the small steps I’ve already taken are:

  • Unsubscribing from mailing lists I don’t read to reduce my in-box.
  • Immediately discounting meetings I don’t think will directly contribute to the business / my primary interests, even if my scientific half thinks they would be interesting!
  • Reducing the number of conferences and workshops I go to.
  • Reducing the number of presentations I give, so I’ll talk about something new rather than just updating the previous presentation with small increments.

These are first steps for me, but what about you? Have you given any thought to what is the most valuable 20% of your day, or perhaps more importantly what do you do with the other 80%. For example:

  • How much time do you spend being swamped with electronic data and information, rather than just accessing what you need?
  • Do you attend networking events because you feel you need to rather than want to or feel they’ll generate sales leads? (see our previous blog)
  • Do you spend time thinking about what you want to do, or do you go with the flow and not actually make conscious decisions?

For micro-business owners every task can seem critical, and it’s easy to carry on doing what we’ve always done – after all doing it has got us a business! However, this doesn’t mean everything you do is benefiting you or your business.

Take a few minutes to consider what you’ve done today. What has directly added value, and perhaps more importantly what hasn’t? Consider cutting down, or even cutting out, the activities not adding value. It should get you closer to identifying the mystical 20%.


Blog co-written with Bryony Hanlon, work placement student at Pixalytics.

Settling in at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting

My beach reading spot!

My beach reading spot!

I’m feeling a bit guilty writing this with everyone in the UK still experiencing the wet wintery weather, as I’m in Honolulu, Hawaii at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting. I arrived around midnight last Friday and spent Saturday morning relaxing on the edge of Waikiki beach looking out to sea, watching people go by and reading a book; and I’d recommend Mr Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan as a great story if you’re interested technology, cryptography or old books!

Ocean Sciences 2014 opened with a welcome reception on Sunday evening and an interesting key note address by Polynesian explorer Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey entitled ‘Bringing the Wisdom of the “Elders” Together with Modern Science for the Future of the Environment’.  During the evening I did try to try track down the three people I’m mentoring at this conference – Elaine, Guangming and Navid. However, as there are over 5,000 attendee’s there were a lot of people to search through!

I finally sat down with my mentees at breakfast on Monday morning. The meeting’s mentoring program is an interesting concept designed to help novice conference attendees get the most value out of their experience.

Yesterday we met up at Navid’s poster to discuss his work on modelling internal waves, at lunch we discussed Elaine’s poster on climate data services and tomorrow Guangming is presenting a talk on the turbidity maximum in Chesapeake Bay in the same session as I’m presenting my ocean colour atmospheric correction work. This is a great element about going to scientific conferences, meeting people to discuss their research and interests. Some are new acquaintances and some I’ve known for a long time. My first time attendance at this meeting (also in Hawaii) was in 2006.

Today I’ve also been to a session on particles in the coastal ocean, and this evening it was Philanthropic Investment in Ocean Research. Tomorrow I’ve got a really busy day as I’m speaking, I’ll give you an update on the second half of the conference next week!

A little addendum I noticed while finishing this post is that Satellite Applications Catapult yesterday published its response to UK Space Innovation and Growth Strategy Space Growth Action Plan. I’ve downloaded it, and it will form part of my next beach reading session!

Collaboration in Earth Observation

Collaboration is a key part of modern scientific discovery and advancement.  Scientists attend conferences to present their work, and then have the opportunity to debate with peers the relative merits of their chosen methodology and its results. Both participating in, and listening to, discussions at a conference is fertile ground for picking up fresh ideas, new approaches and the occasional bit of out of the box thinking.

I feel it’s important for everyone, at all levels, within the scientific community to use conferences as learning experiences for their own professional development.  There are a lot of conferences you could go to, so you need to pick wisely.  Later this month I’m going to be presenting my own work on ocean colour atmospheric correction at the 2014 Ocean Sciences Meeting in Hawaii.  Of course, the fact it’s in Hawaii had no influence on my decision to go!

The Ocean Sciences Meeting is also promoting a different form of collaboration, by getting ‘old hands’ to mentor some of the newer, and early career, scientists to help ensure they get the best out of their conference experience.  With a few thousand delegates and over 200 potential sessions, support and guidance will be helpful.  I’ve agreed to mentor three people, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.  I’ll let you know!

Last week UK and France announced a national collaboration with £15 million of investment for the development of the next generation of weather satellite instruments to map water resources.  This month also sees the launch Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory; a collaborative project between America and Japan to provide near real-time observations of rainfall and snowfall across the globe.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in Earth Observation.  I believe in the concept of collaboration, at both a scientific and commercial level, and I’m always looking for new opportunities.