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Pléiades Neo supports Emergency Response and Recovery during Marrakesh–Safi Earthquake in Morocco



Introduction

In September 2023, Morocco faced a devastating natural disaster when a powerful earthquake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale, struck the region of Marrakesh–Safi. Responding to the urgent need for precise and timely information to aid in emergency response and recovery efforts, Airbus deployed its revolutionary Pléiades Neo constellation. This case study delves into the instrumental role played by 30-cm Pleiades Neo satellite imagery in facilitating and enhancing emergency response and recovery operations following Morocco's 2023 Marrakesh–Safi earthquake.

Applications of Pléiades Neo in Disaster Response

The capabilities of the Pléiades Neo constellation extend far beyond conventional Earth observation. With exceptional geolocation accuracy and detailed spectral band information, these satellites cater to an array of applications, including the monitoring of strategic sites, commercial activities, and maritime zones. In the context of disaster response, the Pléiades Neo satellites prove to be indispensable.

Immediate Post-Earthquake Imaging

Following the devastating 2023 Marrakesh–Safi earthquake, Pléiades Neo and SPOT satellites were swiftly mobilized to capture high-resolution imagery over the affected areas. These areas included Marrakech, Amizmiz, Tizguine, and Mouzda. Tasking was employed to ensure complete coverage of the disaster-stricken region on September 10, 2023, providing critical insights to aid in emergency response efforts.

Detailed Damage Assessment

The high-resolution Pléiades Neo imagery acquired just one day after the earthquake, on September 9, 2023, proved invaluable for conducting detailed damage assessments. It revealed the extent of the devastation, particularly in the city of Amizmiz and the village of Tafeghaghte, where multiple buildings had collapsed. The imagery provided an accurate picture of the destruction, with Tafeghaghte suffering an estimated 80% destruction rate.

Assisting Clearing and Relief Operations

Furthermore, Pléiades Neo imagery played a pivotal role in assessing the damage in various areas. In Tafeghaghte, older structures bore the brunt of the earthquake's impact, while newer buildings remained standing but potentially compromised. The imagery also documented the commencement of clearing operations, with a yellow bulldozer seen at work. Additionally, it captured the beginnings of relief efforts, such as the laying out of red carpets in the shade of trees to welcome survivors.

Landslide Mapping and Urban Impact Assessment

The imagery also revealed the occurrence of landslides on the road connecting Amizmiz and Tafeghaghte, highlighting secondary hazards. It showcased the significant destruction in the central parts of Amizmiz's medina, calling for a focused response effort. Additionally, it documented the establishment of a camp to accommodate the first wave of survivors north of the Amizmiz medina.

Conclusion

The swift deployment of Airbus' Pléiades Neo constellation, armed with its 30-cm high-resolution imagery and rapid tasking capabilities, emerged as a critical asset in the emergency response and recovery efforts that followed the 2023 Marrakesh–Safi earthquake in Morocco. From immediate post-earthquake imaging to detailed damage assessments and support for clearing and relief operations, the Pléiades Neo satellite imagery proved indispensable for disaster management. This case study underscores the pivotal role of advanced Earth observation technologies in reshaping the landscape of disaster response in an increasingly data-centric world.



The Pléiades Neo Constellation: Pioneering Earth Observation

Airbus' Pléiades Neo constellation represents a groundbreaking achievement in Earth observation. Consisting of two identical spacecraft, each boasting a remarkable 30-cm high-resolution capability, this constellation ushers in a new era of Earth observation technology. It offers rapid tasking and the ability to revisit any location on Earth at least twice daily. Collectively, these satellites contribute approximately 500,000 square kilometers of imagery daily to Airbus' extensive repository, which is readily accessible through the OneAtlas digital platform. This platform provides immediate access to both current and archived data, alongside powerful analytics tools, significantly enhancing the practicality and usability of the imagery across diverse applications.

The Pléiades Neo satellites are equipped with state-of-the-art lightweight silicon carbide optical instruments and feature inter-satellite links through Airbus' SpaceDataHighway. These attributes allow for the swift acquisition of emergency imagery requests, often within a remarkable 40-minute timeframe. The imagery acquired is characterized by its unparalleled level of detail, making it a valuable resource for human experts and machine learning algorithms alike. This heightened detection level significantly improves object recognition and provides a wealth of information across various applications.

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