Costa Concordia: Satellite captures image of shipwreck

Posted Jan 20, 2012 by JohnThomas Didymus
A satellite has snapped an image of the Costa Concordia shipwreck. The luxury ocean liner is shown in the image through clouds half-submerged off the coast of Giglio, Italy after it hit a reef on January 13.
Satellite image of Costa Concordia
Satellite image of Costa Concordia
DigitalGlobe reports the satellite photograph was taken Tuesday by an Earth-observation satellite operated by DigitalGlobe, a Colorado-based company that uses its spacecrafts to take high-resolution images of the Earth. DigitalGlobe, according to Huffington Post, operates its own group of satellites and contracts with businesses and governments for intelligence, mapping and environmental monitoring projects.
The image, according DigitalGlobe spokesperson Katie Nafius, was snapped about 308 miles above the surface of the Earth. According to Nafius, the satellite that took the image happened to be in the neighborhood and trained its camera on the wreck. Huffington Post reports that the company's other two satellites, QuickBird and Worldview-2, are also looking to capture images of the wreck but covering clouds have prevented them . Nafius explained to Huffington Post via email: ,
"They’ve tried taking additional shots, but both images taken today from QuickBird and WorldView-2 were cloudy over the ship...Yesterday’s shot was very lucky, there was a break in the clouds just over the ship!"
The image shows the cruise liner lying on its side off the tiny Tuscan Island of Giglio. The Isola del Giglio is to the left hand side of the photo and the Mediterranean Sea which separates the island from the Italian mainland to the right.
Satellite image of Costa Concordia
Satellite image of Costa Concordia
The liner had about 3,200 passengers and a crew of 1,000 on board when the accident happened (see new video of panic aboard Concordia here) . According to, rough seas forced the suspension of rescue operations Wednesday. MSNBC reports that at least 23 people remained unaccounted for Wednesday. The captain in charge of rescue operations said they need to blow more holes to gain access to the bottom of the cruise ship.
Huffington Post reports that the ocean liner was carrying several thousand gallons of heavy fuel oil and diesel. Italian officials say a fuel spill would be "disaster."
Cruise industry insiders have said that the disaster will take a toll on the industry in its peak season.
Satellites, according to, have, in recent times, been taking photographs of significant events such as natural disasters and the number of Earth-observing satellites in space for both commercial and military uses is increasing.
DigitalGlobe satellite took a space shot of the compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan before the raid by U.S. solders on May 1 in which the fugitive leader of Al Qaeda was killed.