Hi Chung, can you tell us a little bit about yourself: where are you from, what's your background and what position do you have at Sentinel Hub GmbH?

Hi everyone, my name is 洪宗翔 (Chung-Xiang Hong) and I come from Taiwan, but everybody calls me Chung. I have a background in Geosciences and Climatology. For my Master degree in Copenhagen, Danemark, I also worked on the combination Remote Sensing and Machine Learning applications to detect cloud over ice-sheets, with a focus on Greenland. I joined Sentinel Hub almost exactly a year ago where I am employed as a Remote Sensing engineer.

What are your activities in Sentinel Hub? Can you describe a typical task that you perform?

Because we are a small team we are very flexible in our work, but I have a preference for the tasks that require coding. Over time, having naturally been drawn to programming, I have become the "go-to" Python person in the team! Most of my activities currently relate to assisting our clients in using Sentinel Hub services to power their existing EO data processing workflows. A task that I particularly enjoyed earlier this year was to optimise and upscale the Truck Detection Algorithm (https://collections.eurodatacube.com/truck-detection/) using the Euro Data Cube services. I found the algorithm developed by Henrick Fisser in the context of the Sentinel Hub COVID-19 Custom Script Contest (https://www.sentinel-hub.com/develop/community/contest-covid/) very clever, and had a lot of fun making it work at large-scale.

It sounds like you are working on some really interesting projects! What is your most favourite aspect of the job?

In general, I would say the working environment. I am working with a group of nice and talented people, and we built up our team in a way that we support each other and contribute to each other's tasks. I also like that there is no routine in my job. New challenges pop up all the time, making me feel that I am continuously learning on the job. Finally, the tasks I have worked on over the past year were all interesting and fun: nothing could be better than being happy at work!

It sounds like you are really enjoying your work, that's great! Did you always know that you wanted to work with satellite imagery?

Not at all! I had never worked with satellite imagery until I started my Master program. I met my supervisor Jason at GEUS (Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland) and he guided me into the world of Earth Observation. We worked together on cloud detection over Greenland's ice-sheet using Sentinel 3 OLCI and SLSTR. At the same time, I was learning coding and Machine Learning, so I tried to apply Machine Learning to cloud detection based on satellite retrievals. That was a really interesting project and it eventually became my Master thesis. I have been amazed by what we can do with satellite imagery ever since. Now I would like to dig even deeper into the world of satellite imagery and see what else can be done with this data that hasn't been tested yet. To summarise, it was out of luck that I started working with satellite imagery, but I'm delighted to work in this field.

Has Sentinel Hub changed your approach to satellite imagery?

Hugely: during my Master project I had to download terabytes of raw data and did the pre-processing steps locally on my laptop. It was slow and time consuming, so I switched to using the CloudToolbox service provided by ESA to build a virtual machine for pre-processing. It did accelerate the process, but I also spent weeks setting up the environment: it was not a pleasant experience. Since I started to use Sentinel Hub services, almost all processing steps have been moved to the cloud. I can process satellite imagery only for my interested area on-the-fly and directly access analysis-ready data. This makes satellite imagery easier to be handled and more accessible for me because the service takes care of the most annoying steps such as raw data downloading and mosaicking.

Indeed, it sounds like a big step forward. For people looking to making a career out of working with satellite imagery, do you have any tips? What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this field?

I'd say being passionate and being willing to accept challenges are the most important points. We work in a field that is evolving all the time. There are more and more satellites launched each year and we have access to increasingly new data products. Meanwhile, more and more users are trying to make use of the data for a variety of purposes. Challenges are everywhere and we are always looking for a unique solution for each use case. To me, programming skills are also a must because the amount of data we are handling is so huge, it is impossible to process everything manually. Last but not least, try to keep the eagerness to learn! I've been worked in the field for a year and have been learning new concepts or techniques on a daily basis. Even my colleagues who have been working in the field for years tell me that they are still learning. Being open-minded will take you a long way.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. One last question before we leave: can you share with us a fun or quirky satellite image that you have come across?

Interesting question: there are a lot of images that come to mind and I could provide a long list of examples. However, my favourite one is an image created by one of my colleagues as a prank on April fool's day: it's a Sentinel-2 True Colour composite of Loch Ness in Scotland, where we can see a monster swimming in the lake. When I opened the image he sent to me, I had a good laugh!

chung screenshot