Russian attack of Ukrainian home-improvement store seen in satellite image

This BlackSky satellite image, collected over Chernihiv, Ukraine, on Feb. 28, 2022 at 12:22 local time (UTC+2), shows an Epicentr K home improvement warehouse ablaze with scorched fields a few hundred meters east following shelling in the area. (Image credit: BlackSky)

Private Earth-observation satellites are helping the world keep tabs on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sharp-eyed spacecraft operated by Maxar Technologies and Planet have documented Russian troop movements and the damage done to strategic targets in Ukraine such as airbases. But the destruction and attacks have not been restricted to facilities with military significance, as photos from Virginia-based company BlackSky show.

Sunday (Feb. 27), BlackSky posted on Twitter satellite imagery collected over Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine. The shot shows new craters from Russian shelling, which "skirt the edge of residential areas, causing damage to nearby service and retail shops," BlackSky representatives wrote in the Twitter post.

Related: Satellite photos reveal details of Russian invasion into Ukraine

An annotated version of the BlackSky image captured on Feb. 28, 2022, with inset photos of the area from Feb. 26 to provide a before-and-after view. (Image credit: BlackSky)

And Monday (Feb. 28), the company posted on Twitter a satellite shot of an Epicentr K — a big home-improvement store similar to Home Depot or Lowe's — ablaze in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.

The photo was taken Monday at 5:22 a.m. EST (1022 GMT; 12:22 local time in Chernihiv). It shows the Epicentr K ablaze, shrouded in plumes of smoke, after Russian shelling rocked the area, BlackSky representatives told via email. Scorched fields are also visible in the shot a few hundred meters east of the store, they noted.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is first and foremost a humanitarian and geopolitical crisis, of course. But there could also be significant impacts to spaceflight and exploration down the road. Russia has already said it will halt launches of Russian-built Soyuz rockets from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, for example.

Additionally, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's federal space agency, recently said that economic sanctions imposed on the nation as a result of the invasion could destroy the International Space Station partnership.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook

Mike Wall Senior Writer
Michael was a science writer for the Idaho National Laboratory and has been an intern at, The Salinas Californian newspaper, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He has also worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.