Revisiting the Encoding of Satellite Image Time Series

Xin Cai (Ulster University),* Yaxin Bi (Ulster University), Peter Nicholl (Ulster University), Roy Sterritt (Ulster University)
The 34th British Machine Vision Conference


Satellite Image Time Series (SITS) representation learning is complex due to high spatiotemporal resolutions, irregular acquisition times, and intricate spatiotemporal interactions. These challenges result in specialized neural network architectures tailored for SITS analysis. The field has witnessed promising results achieved by pioneering researchers, but transferring the latest advances or established paradigms from Computer Vision (CV) to SITS is still highly challenging due to the existing suboptimal representation learning framework. In this paper, we develop a novel perspective of SITS processing as a direct set prediction problem, inspired by the recent trend in adopting query-based transformer decoders to streamline the object detection or image segmentation pipeline. We further propose to decompose the representation learning process of SITS into three explicit steps: collect–update–distribute, which is computationally efficient and suits for irregularly-sampled and asynchronous temporal satellite observations. Facilitated by the unique reformulation, our proposed temporal learning backbone of SITS, initially pre-trained on the resource efficient pixel-set format and then fine-tuned on the downstream dense prediction tasks, has attained new state-of-the-art (SOTA) results on the PASTIS benchmark dataset. Specifically, the clear separation between temporal and spatial components in the semantic/panoptic segmentation pipeline of SITS makes us leverage the latest advances in CV, such as the universal image segmentation architecture, resulting in a noticeable 2.5 points increase in mIoU and 8.8 points increase in PQ, respectively, compared to the best scores reported so far.



author    = {Xin Cai and Yaxin Bi and Peter Nicholl and Roy Sterritt},
title     = {Revisiting the Encoding of Satellite Image Time Series},
booktitle = {34th British Machine Vision Conference 2023, {BMVC} 2023, Aberdeen, UK, November 20-24, 2023},
publisher = {BMVA},
year      = {2023},
url       = {}

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