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Posted on April 7th, 2020

Our Changing Landscape – The Construction of Huoshenshan

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium-resolution PlanetScope satellite imagery. The PlanetScope constellation dates back to 2016 and collects hundreds of millions of square kilometers of 4-band 3-meter imagery daily! In last month’s edition of Our Changing Landscape we had a glimpse at the tragic outcome of the 2019-2020 Australian fires, and for April we move to China to investigate the construction of a hospital meant to house coronavirus victims in Wuhan, Hubei province named Huoshenshan (or Fire God Mountain).

Click on the image above to see an animation of 3-meter natural color PlanetScope imagery collected over the assumed site of Huoshenshan hospital in Wuhan, China on January 20, January 30, February 4 and February 20, 2020. And yes indeed these images appear to confirm the rumors as in the January 20th image there is a mostly empty field where in the February 20th image appears a completed structure with a blue roof. And the speed of the progress is remarkable as in the Feb 4th image the buildings appear to be nearly complete (as the reports suggest) other than perhaps some colored rooves – wow! (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2020)

The PlanetScope Microsat Constellation

PlanetScope is a constellations of more than 150 microsats referred to individually as Doves. Each Dove is able to collect up to 20,000 square kilometers (sq km) per day of 3-meter (m) 4-band multispectral (i.e. blue, green, red and near-infrared [NIR]) imagery. Across the constellation, PlanetScope is archiving more than 200 million sq km of medium-resolution imagery a day, making it the go to source for daily imagery over most locations. This massive archive dates back to 2016, offering the most complete and continuous record of spatial data on the planet since the start of the constellation’s ongoing launch schedule. Collecting 3-meter multispectral imagery is the equivalent of ‘high-resolution’ multispectral data imaged by a 75-centimer (cm) satellite (as this satellite would feature 75-cm panchromatic and 3-m multispectral), making PlanetScope an extremely competitively priced option at just $1.80 per sq km. With well registered images and nearly daily collections of most locations, PlanetScope is the ideal imagery source for this current-events focused series, Our Changing Landscape.

Did the Construction of Huoshenshan Hospital Take Just 10 Days?

It is not the point of this article to recount the spread of the pandemic, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as that is well covered in other locations such as this valuable website maintained by the United States Center for Disease Control. Rather, it is our point to highlight the construction of a hospital meant to house coronavirus victims at the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, China. According to Chinese reports, construction on Huoshenshan, a 1,000-bed hospital in the Caidian district of Wuhan, started on January 24th and was completed in time for patients to arrive on Tuesday, February 4th, after just 10 days of construction. This time-lapsed video seems to confirm that the hospital was built in a very short time frame; while this on-the-ground report claims that even as the hospital was accepting patients, there was still some ongoing construction work in the back of the facility. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this series is identifying the correct location on the ground especially when the building is very new, so hopefully this image is correct and we were able to find the location using distinctive features we could see in it and the previews for PlanetScope data. Either way, it is off to the 3-meter archive to see if we can confirm or reject the claim of the lighting-fast construction of Huoshenshan.

If you would like to find out more about using 3-meter PlanetScope imagery for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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