Forever Overhead: Fukushima

It’s a bit late (7 weeks in, and this post has been in the hopper for several), but still relevant under the “Forever Overhead” rubric if not nuclear catastrophe.

This is more specifically about the “democratizing” aspect of what can be done with publicly-available (or private data leaked to an inquisitive public) aerial imagery when the agencies nominally responsible for keeping us informed are less than forthcoming.

First, we have a series of aerial photos of the Fukushima Daiichi complex, released by (as part of their extensive “Eyeballing” series–like “Forever Overhead” without the musing) and annotated by the Union of Concerned Scientists and available in two posts, here and here.

Then, we have a series of “thermographs” from the Self Defense Force, assessing the temperature of the reactors and spent fuel pools. They’ve performed overflights and released images with some regularity and the reports are available here.

Japan Self Defense Force

Via “The Big Dustup” we have some much higher-resolution thermal images (from NHK TV) and some analysis of the overall damage. I also recommend a number of his other damage assessment analyses.


YouTube user “Kurtsfilmevideo” has taken a series of aerial footage clips from Fukushima (and a variety of other clips from the tsunami) and software enhanced and “de-shaked” them, affording some pretty remarkable views.



“Forever Overhead” is a series about satellite imagery, drones, aerial sensing/imagery–any overhead technology where the seen subject may be unaware of the specific instances of that seeing (a sort of vertical Panopticon). And also, the sometimes power-balancing effect of public access to these data. The topic for me is an old one, and, incidentally, the title is the same ad my favorite David Foster Wallace story.

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