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Posted on September 13th, 2016

Our Changing Landscape – Naval Air Station Jacksonville

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 8 billion square kilometers of data. We continue our focus on newly expanded infrastructure, traveling from Abu Dhabi back to the United States with a look at the revamping of the Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida.

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

Revamping Naval Air Station Jacksonville

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over the Naval Air Station Jacksonville on October 29, 2015, December 27, 2015, February 26, 2016 and July 13, 2016. In the four-date layer stack, you can see significant changes in the runways and associated structures. If you look closely, there are new/expanded buildings that pop-up towards the center of the image. (Images Courtesy: Planet)

The history of the Naval Air Station Jacksonville dates back to 1907 when the US military purchased the lands and established Black Point. Florida National Guard troops started to arrive in 1909. After several name and use changes, on October 15, 1940, the Naval Air Station Jacksonville was officially commissioned. By the mid-1950’s, the base had more than 700 buildings with 11,000 plus military employees and some 5,000 civilian employees, with a payroll over $35 million per year. Today, the Naval Air Station Jacksonville houses eight airplane, four helicopter and three reserve squadrons as well as 90 other tenants whom all combined contribute at least $2 billion per year to the local economy.

While the Naval Air Station Jacksonville is an important part of the local economy, it is the oldest airbase in Florida, and well, it was showing its age apparently. So in 2015, renovations to the base were announced and commenced shortly thereafter. Part of the overhaul is a new $30 million, 115,000 square foot commissary featuring a grocery store and a truck loading dock. The most noticeable upgrade to the Naval Air Station Jacksonville is the recently completed $52 million runway which has been extended by about 1,000 feet to accommodate the takeoff and landing requirements of the Navy’s P8 Poseidon. The runway required some 100,000 tons of concrete, 1,200 LED runway lights and 2.6 million square feet of asphalt. Now it is time to turn to the 5-m RapidEye imagery record to see how the renovations changed the look of the Naval Air Station Jacksonville from above!

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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