From natural disasters like floods, wildfires, earthquakes and droughts to human-caused incidents like political turmoil, government collapses and terrorist attacks, the frenzied pace of events across the globe over the past two weeks is not uncommon to the journalists covering these stories. Nor is the cadence unusual for Maxar’s News Bureau, which provides visual context to support their reporting.

Maxar’s News Bureau is a partnership program with trusted and respected media organizations that leverages technology for social good and global transparency. The News Bureau relies on satellite imagery from Maxar’s industry-leading constellation, which collects the highest resolution commercial imagery available, allowing Maxar to provide a detailed view of what’s happening on Earth. When this high resolution is combined with the constellation’s agility, Maxar satellites can see farther and collect more imagery to provide insightful information on current events.

The News Bureau has been working hand-in-hand with reporters, photo editors and producers around the world for several years, and the second half of August has been busy. Here’s a sample of reporting the News Bureau has contributed to since mid-August:

Hurricane Ida makes landfall

These Maxar satellite images were among the first from space to demonstrate the extent of the damage caused by Hurricane Ida.

Hurricane Ida slammed into Louisiana and Mississippi as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday, August 29, 2021. The storm caused significant damage to homes and buildings, knocked out power to more than a million customers in Louisiana, and at one point even made the Mississippi River flow backwards. The Maxar constellation collected new imagery on August 31, 2021, of Louisiana’s coastline, and the News Bureau produced and distributed it to the media. The images were published by including The Guardian, NPR and New York Post, among others.

The fall of Kabul, Afghanistan

Maxar satellites have been monitoring the situation at the main airport in Kabul.

The Taliban overtook Kabul on August 15, 2021, and U.S. military and coalition forces conducted a complicated evacuation operation at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

The News Bureau has distributed four sets of satellite images collected August 15-27, 2021, showing the Kabul airport. Media organizations used Maxar satellite imagery to show the scale of people rushing to the airport and to demonstrate the complexity of this evacuation in articles such as The New York Times’ “Chaos and Desperation at the Kabul Airport,” USA Today’s "A Taliban takeover, chaos at the airport: See how the collapse of Afghanistan unfolded,” and Reuters’ “Kabul airport from above, where quiet follows day of chaos.

Investigating the death of a Reuters photojournalist

Reuters and Maxar geolocated the photojournalist’s final movements based on the images from his camera, satellite imagery and firsthand accounts of the attack.

Danish Siddiqui was an award-winning Reuters photojournalist embedded with Afghan Special Forces outside Kandahar, Afghanistan, when he was killed in a Taliban attack during a failed attempt to retake a key border town on July 16, 2021. Shortly afterward, Reuters recovered Siddiqui’s camera and worked with Maxar’s News Bureau to identify where Siddiqui’s last images were taken using satellite imagery.

On August 23, 2021, Reuters published a moving in-depth investigation into Siddiqui’s death. Reuters’ investigative data journalist Reade Levinson also posted a Twitter thread that details how Reuters and the News Bureau geolocated Siddiqui’s last images.

Deadly earthquake in Haiti

The Hotel Le Manguier in Les Cayes, Haiti, collapsed during the earthquake. The slider above shows how it appears before and after the earthquake.

A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on August 14, 2021, and the News Bureau distributed satellite imagery of the damage the following day. The latest reports indicate that more than 2,200 people died as a result of the earthquake. Maxar imagery was published by the BBC, NDTV and

New water restrictions on Lake Mead and the Colorado River

In this distribution, the News Bureau included two types of satellite imagery to demonstrate the drought at Lake Mead between the summers of 2020 and 2021: Maxar’s high-resolution satellite imagery shows the drought impacts in detail and the European Space Agency’s 10 m resolution satellite imagery from Sentinel-2 visualizes water levels across the large reservoir.

The U.S. government declared a water shortage for the first time on the lower Colorado River basin and announced new water restrictions on August 16, 2021. That same day, the News Bureau distributed a set of images that visualizes the ongoing drought conditions at Lake Mead, part of the Colorado River basin in Nevada. Axios, The Weather Channel and CBC News published this set of images.

Wildfire in California

The Caldor Wildfire is burning in Eldorado National Forest, east of Sacramento, California. Over 3,900 firefighters are battling the fire that has scorched more than 191,000 acres. The image above was part of a set distributed by the News Bureau: Look closely along the bottom of the image to see a DC-10 air tanker flying near the active fire line. The Los Angeles Times, PBS and The Independent used the images to illustrate their stories on the wildfire.

Launching supplies to the International Space Station

Maxar’s WorldView-2 satellite peered between the clouds on August 27, 2021, to see SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon 2 Resupply Spacecraft prepared for launch. The Falcon 9 successfully launched on Sunday, August 29, 2021, and Maxar’s imagery was published by CNBC’s Michael Sheetz on Twitter, SatNews and

Active severe weather season ahead

This WeatherDesk screenshot shows the storm tracks in the Atlantic Ocean, hurricane season to date, in 2021.

The fall is typically an active season related to natural disasters such as hurricanes. Across the Atlantic Ocean basin, Maxar meteorologists are forecasting a more-active-than-normal hurricane season, influenced by La Niña. The Maxar team predicts 17 named storms, of which eight will become hurricanes and four of those will be classified as major hurricanes. Throughout the tropical season, Maxar’s WeatherDesk platform is utilized by customers to track hurricanes and typhoons on a real-time basis to mitigate their weather risk.

In the fall, Maxar’s Open Data Program typically activates for hurricanes, typhoons and wildfires around the globe. September to December tends to be the busiest time of year for the Open Data Program to support the humanitarian community by publicly releasing critical and actionable information to assist response efforts and fulfill our purpose, For A Better World.

Both the Open Data Program and the News Bureau will be at the ready to support their different but intertwined partners worldwide this fall.

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