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Posted on November 7th, 2023

30-cm Color WorldView-3/4 Image of the Month – Barra Airport, Scotland

This month’s 30-cm Worldview-3 image features Barra Airport in Scotland, the only airport featuring a beach runway for scheduled air traffic. The airport lies at the northern tip of the Island of Barra in the bay of Tràigh Mhòr in Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The airport was opened in 1974, and services over 14,000 passengers and 1,400 aircrafts each year. The near-by beach is set out with three runways, each with permanent wooden poles stationed at their ends. Flight times here are dependent on the tide, as at high tide the runways are submerged in sea water. During low tide, the runways are closed and it reverts to a beach enjoyed by the public. To see a pilot’s-eye view of a touchdown on this unique runway, check out this video. These 30-cm WorldView-3 images of Barra Airport and its surrounding area were captured on July 23, 2023. The first image provides an aerial view of the airport, likely captured at high tide. The second image shows an interesting water channel off the east coast of the island. The final image shows a cluster of homes by the beach in Eoligarry, Scotland (it’s on the same island of Barra). These 30-cm WorldView-3 images have been processed by Apollo Mapping for improved perspective, clarity and colors. (Satellite Imagery © 2023 Maxar Technologies)

Every time we look at WorldView-3 and WorldView-4 (WV3/4) imagery, we are blown away. And we hope you are equally impressed with the data! In October, we looked at Norway’s Henningsvaer Stadium. For this edition of the 30-cm Color WorldView-3/4 Image of the Month we’re headed to Scotland to check out Barra Airport, the only scheduled airport in the world with a beach runway.

WorldView-3 launched in late 2014 and WorldView-4 launched in late 2016; taken together they are the most advanced satellite constellation the commercial marketplace has ever had access to. Here are a few of the features that really set these satellites apart from the competition:

  • Improved Resolution
      • Higher resolution means you can see more detail in WV3/4 imagery.
      • Data collected at nadir will have 31-centimeter (cm) panchromatic, 1.24-meter (m) visible and near infrared, 3.7-m SWIR (WV3 only) and 30-m CAVIS (WV3 only) bands.
      • At 20 degrees off-nadir, the resolution is 34-cm panchromatic, 1.38-m visible and near infrared and 4.1-m shortwave infrared.
  • Additional Spectral Bands
    • If spectral analysis is part of your project, then no other satellite can match WV3 with its: 8 bands of visible and near-infrared data; and 8 shortwave infrared bands which are crucial for geological studies.
  • Better Positional Accuracy
    • With accuracies of 3.5-m CE90% or better (without ground control even!), WV3/4 has no rivals for its enhanced positional accuracy.
  • Daily Revisits
    • At 40 degrees latitude, WV3 is able to image every location daily with 1-meter or better resolution and then every 4.5 days at 34-cm resolution or better.
    • WV4 is no longer collecting new imagery.
  • Increased Collection Capacity
    • WV3/4 feature 13.1-km swath widths (at nadir) with the ability to collect up to 680,000 square kilometer (sq km) of high-resolution data per day per satellite (though WV4 is dead now).
    • Improved control movement gyros translate into larger maximum contiguous collection areas per pass, with up to ~7,500 sq km of mono imagery and ~3,000 sq km of stereo possible.

If you are interested in WorldView-3 and/or WorldView-4 imagery for your next project, please let us know by phone, 303-993-3863, or by email,

You can also find more WV3 samples and technical information on our website here and then WV4 samples and information can be found here.

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