Company: BlackShore – creative

Holden Crater on Mars

The Dutch start-up company
‘BlackShore - creative’ is developing the Cerberus platform.

Cerberus can be defined as an automated processing engine to translate any type of photographic satellite data into usable GIS data by harnessing them with additional information by the 'power of the crowd'.

Project: The Cerberus platform

In the form of an interactive computer game, Cerberus players get to process photographs where they have to mark interesting features like river deltas on Mars, the evolution of glaciers on Earth and so on.

Cerberus as a game is equipped with a built-in extensive on-line learning and help facility to ready the players to do the job, while on-the-job. Because of this, Cerberus serves three important factors within the space business: E-learning, Crowdsourcing and Outreach.

Cerberus croudsourcing experiment


Cerberus comes with a validated interactive help function which teaches players what to know before conducting their work on the photographs. In the prototype case players had to map geological features like sedimentary layers on Mars which can be tricky. However, because of the help function people were able to locate the most difficult elements, confirming that Cerberus works as a great E-learning tool.


Because a large number of people can process vast amounts of data Cerberus is able to translate satellite data into GIS data extremely fast and accurate. “Moreover our crowd has proven to conduct mapping more thorough than what experts can do,” says Hans van 't Woud from BlackShore – creative.

Cerberus user interface


Because Cerberus is fun to play people will spend a lot of time mapping surfaces. In the case of Mars, people got fascinated about the surface. At first they thought Mars was a boring dust bowl but after having explored the surface for themselves they think differently.

Imagine what will happen to space popularity when 100 000’s of players get to explore our solar system surfaces for themselves while being rewarded by fun.

From space to industry

Cerberus was originally used as a tool to map Mars only using photographs taken in space. While this is an interesting feature, Cerberus can be easily modified for Earth observation. As long as satellite photographs are used Cerberus can be used everywhere. An important potential is to use Cerberus in research like for climate change.

Playing with real data

Because the players get to play their games with real photographic data and have to look for real features in these photographs, they automatically become aware of what is happening in the photographs. In the first place the players learn what they have to look for, but secondly they can get actively involved with what they are doing.

Climate change

An example can be to increase climate change awareness among our players. When they get to play with photographs of such elements as glaciers, flooding, rainforests and others, to mark their evolution, players get actively involved into what is happening in locations on the Earth.


While playing with the above mentioned data the company hopes to make the players thus aware, while learning, of the beauty and fragility of Earth so they might improve their environmental behavior although even if only a little bit!

Imagine 100’s of players actively looking at the North Pole and then understanding better what is happing when ice is cracking!

ESA Business Incubation

BlackShore-Creative is hosted at the ESA Business Incubation Centre (BIC) Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

The hosting period started in early 2011 and is under incubation for a year at ESA BIC Noordwijk. This period is required in order to make Cerberus more business professional and to identify interesting business opportunities. In addition The company has the opportunity to get technical assistance from ESTEC.


Hans van 't Woud
Mob: +31 (0) 614 104 204

ESA BIC Noordwijk office:
ESTEC - Mb 029
Keplerlaan 1
PO Box 299
2200 AG Noordijwk ZH
The Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0) 71 565 8737
Fax: +31 (0) 71 565 6635

Hoofdstraat 40
2351 AK Leiderdop
Chamber of commerce registred in the Netherlands: no. 27348352.

BlackShore-Creative website

Last update: 19 July 2011

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