Martin Edstrom: The changing approach towards news delivery

Over the years, Thuraya has been proud to work with leading journalists to help them break stories while staying safe as they work from the world’s toughest conflict zones. In 2015, we are proud to be working with Swedish journalist, Martin Edstrom, who is changing the way news is delivered with immersive stories though unique 360° reports. Martin shares with us the exciting work that he’s doing


The man himself!

Let us know more about what you do that makes your work unique
I work in a very new and emerging field within journalism, photography and communication: immersive and interactive storytelling. These digital experiences rely on images photographed in 360 degrees, letting the reader explore the whole setting of an image instead of just one selected frame. By using an intuitive interface, the reader can move around inside the reportage, from location to location while hearing the ambient sound of each location and reading the accompanying piece.

Interactive storytelling brings additional dimensions to linear storytelling which is consumed from point A to B. Interactive storytelling is largely non-linear; the user has an active role in how the story is told and experienced. The user/reader actively explores these reportages and stories, by navigating through the story. This way, we create immersive content that touches readers in a new way, triggering different interactions or level of response, similar to computer games.


The team

How does interactive storytelling impact your work?
Since interactive storytelling is a rather new field within journalism and communication, there are endless possibilities to explore. We’ve only scratched the surface of how interactive stories can be used. In 2014, I produced 360 reports for clients like The Guardian and also used the same approach to create interactive online experiences for the United Nations Development Program and the International Rescue Committee. Immersive stories give organizations a new way of presenting stories to their readers – letting people explore stories and projects as if they were there, on the ground themselves.

How do you view the changing landscape of the media?
I believe there are many things that have to change. First of all, print is dead. There will soon be no (or almost no) paper publications. That does not mean we have to let go of the high quality standards of newspaper journalism – quite the opposite – however, we must also adopt a new kind of thinking. What is most apparent to me is the new divide between breaking news and deeper perspective journalism pieces. They both used to fit in the same newspaper, but today they require very different channels – and attract different readers. Attract the attention towards the latter, deeper perspective journalism is a challenge. We need new ways to engage people, especially the younger generation, to read and learn about important issues.

How do people consume the news today, as opposed to say five years ago?
News is consumed in two ways. Through breaking news that come through social media and news aggregation apps and through newspapers and magazines that present more complementary, in-depth pieces. The downside to this is that people have shorter attention spans, they want shorter pieces in favor of in-depth journalism.

What role does satellite communications play in your line of work?
Traveling to remote parts of the Middle East or in the wilderness of Nepal sometimes gets you away from mobile coverage. Satellite communications is that extra life-line that makes sure you can always reach who you need to reach, wherever you are. In many places there can also be times (hours or days) when GSM or 3G simply goes down, but the satellites are still up there. I feel safer traveling with my satellite phone, knowing I always have the means to communicate.


IP+ in action

What types of projects will you be working on in 2015?
Well, 2015 starts off in a big way! I am going on my first mission with National Geographic, to make an interactive reportage about the world’s largest cave: Son Doong in Vietnam. It’s a major expedition over the course of a week, where my seven person team and I will descend into the cave and work tirelessly to capture the whole place in 360 degrees. It’s going to be an extremely interesting trip – exploring both the cave and the new storytelling format together with National Geographic.


Getting ready

To follow Martin and his team on their Son Doong expedition, check out their blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

CubeSats for testing

GomX-4B with GomX-4A

Technology CubeSats

In parallel with the Proba minisatellite missions, ESA is now also utilising much smaller ‘CubeSat’ nanosatellites. These are employed for the In-Orbit Demonstration (IOD) of miniaturised technologies and for small payload-driven missions.

What are CubeSats?

These nanosatellites typically weigh between 1 and 10 kilograms and follow the popular ‘CubeSat’ standard, which defines the outer dimensions of the satellite within multiple cubic units of 10x10x10 cm. For instance, a 3-unit CubeSat has dimensions of 10x10x30 cm and weighs about 3-4 kg. This is typically the minimum size which can accommodate small technology payloads.

SIMBA mission

Fixing the satellite body dimensions promotes a highly modular, highly integrated system where satellite subsystems are available as ’commercial off the shelf’ products from a number of different suppliers and can be stacked together according to the needs of the mission. Furthermore, the standard dimensions also allows CubeSats to hitch a ride to orbit within a container, which simplifies the accommodation on the launcher and minimises flight safety issues, increasing the number of launch opportunities as well as keeping the launch cost low.

Due to their high degree of modularity and extensive use of commercial off the shelf subsystems, CubeSat projects can be readied for flight on a much more rapid basis compared to traditional satellite schedules, typically within one to two years.

RadCube

Why is ESA interested in CubeSats?

CubeSats have already proved their worth as educational tools. In addition, they have various promising applications in the ESA context:

  • As a driver for drastic miniaturisation of systems, ‘systems-on-chips’, and totally new approach to packaging and integration, multi-functional structures, embedded propulsion
  • As an affordable means of demonstrating such technologies, together with novel techniques such as formation flying, close inspection or rendezvous and docking
  • As an opportunity to carry out distributed multiple in-situ measurements, such as obtaining simultaneous multi-point observations of the space environment (which might include the thermosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere or charged particle flux)
  • As a means of deploying small payloads – for instance, very compact radio receivers or optical cameras where the potential deficit in performance may be largely compensated by the multitude of satellites involved (e.g. in constellations or swarms)
  • As a means of augmenting solar system exploration with – for instance, a stand-alone fleet capable of rendezvous with multiple targets (e.g. near-Earth objects) or a swarm carried by a larger spacecraft and deployed at the destination (e.g. Moon, asteroid/comet, Mars).

GomX-3 CubeSat

Technology in-orbit demonstration CubeSats

Since 2013, ESA has begun a number of CubeSat missions funded under the In-Orbit Demonstration part of the General Support Technology Programme (GSTP). The first IOD project was as follows: 

  • GOMX-3 (led by Gomspace, Denmark): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to demonstrate aircraft ADS-B signal reception and geostationary telecommunication satellite spot beam signal quality using an L-band reconfigurable software defined radio payload. A miniaturised high data rate X-band transmitter developed by Syrlinks and funded by the French space agency CNES was flown as a third party payload. The satellite was deployed from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015 and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere after 1 year of successful operations.

The following IOD missions are being readied for flight:

  • GOMX-4B (led by Gomspace, Denmark): a 6-unit CubeSat mission to demonstrate Inter-Satellite Link and propulsion technologies when flying in tandem with the GOMX-4A (developed by Gomsapce for the Danish Ministry of Defence). The mission will also carrying additional technology payloads: the HyperScout compact hyperspectral imager (Cosine, The Netherlands), a new star tracker (Innovative Solutions in Space, The Netherlands), and the ESA CHIMERA experiment exposing new electronic components to space. The satellites are scheduled for launch in February 2018.

Picasso CubeSat

  • QARMAN (led by the Von Karman Institute, Belgium): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to demonstrate re-entry technologies, particularly novel heatshield materials, a new passive aerodynamic drag stabilisation system, and the transmission of telemetry data during re-entry via data relay satellites in low-Earth orbit, due to be launched to/deployed from the International Space Station in 2018
  • SIMBA (led by the Royal Meteorological Institute Belgium with KU Leuven): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to measure the Total Solar Irradiance and Earth Radiation Budget climate variables with a miniaturised radiometer instrument, due to be launched in 2019 on the Vega Small Satellite Mission Service (SSMS) Proof of Concept flight
  • Picasso (led by Belgian Institute of Space Aeronomy with VTT Finland and Clyde Space, UK): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to measure Stratospheric Ozone distribution, Mesospheric Temperature profile and Electron density in the ionosphere using a miniaturised multi-spectral imager for limb sounding of solar disk, and a multi-Needle Langmuir Probe, due to be launched in 2019 on the Vega Small Satellite Mission Service (SSMS) Proof of Concept flight
  • RadCube (led by C3S with MTA EK in Hungary, Imperial College London in UK, and Astronika in Poland): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to demonstrate miniaturised instrument technologies that measure in-situ the space radiation and magnetic field environment in Low Earth Orbit for space weather monitoring purposes. The platform developed by C3S will also be demonstrated in flight. The project is currently in the preliminary design phase and planned to be ready for flight in late 2019.
  • PRETTY (led by RUAG Austria with TU Graz and Seibersdorf Laboratories): a 3-unit CubeSat mission to demonstrate the technique of GNSS Reflectometry at low grazing angles for altimetry (primarily for sea ice detection) using a new software-defined GNSS receiver. Additionally, a miniaturised radiation dosimeter will also be tested in flight. The project is currently in the preliminary design phase.

Mission application studies

QARMAN CubeSat

In addition to the IOD missions, numerous studies focussed on the mission applications of nano-satellite systems and miniaturised payloads have been performed under funding of the ESA General Studies Programme (GSP), including:

  • Remote Sensing with Cooperative Nano-satellites -four parallel ‘Sysnova’ studies
  • Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) Cubesat Opportunity Payloads with Intersatellite Networking Sensors (COPINS) –four parallel ‘Sysnova’ studies
  • Lunar Cubesats for Exploration (LUCE) –four parallel ‘Sysnova’ studies
  • SpectroCube mission: beyond LEO astrobiology/astrochemistry experiments –internal CDF study
  • Miniaturised Asteroid Remote Geophysical Observer (MARGO) stand-alone deep space CubeSat –internal CDF study.

GomX-4B CubeSat

Contact

Roger Walker

Email: Roger.Walker@esa.int

Last update: 15 November 2017

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