Aircraft and Ship Velocity Determination in Sentinel-2 Multispectral Images

Henning Heiselberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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The Sentinel-2 satellites in the Copernicus program provide high resolution multispectral images, which are recorded with temporal offsets up to 2.6 s. Moving aircrafts and ships are therefore observed at different positions due to the multispectral band offsets, from which velocities can be determined. We describe an algorithm for detecting aircrafts and ships, and determining their speed, heading, position, length, etc. Aircraft velocities are also affected by the parallax effect and jet streams, and we show how the altitude and the jet stream speed can be determined from the geometry of the aircraft and/or contrail heading. Ship speeds are more difficult to determine as wakes affect the average ship positions differently in the various multispectral bands, and more advanced corrections methods are shown to improve the velocity determination.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2873
Issue number13
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).


  • Sentinel-2
  • Aircraft
  • Altitude
  • Jet stream
  • Multispectral
  • Parallax
  • Ship
  • Temporal offsets
  • Velocity

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