Reading the ABCs from Space

Reading the ABCs from Space

By Adam Voiland Design by Jesse Allen & Paul Przyborski December 15, 2015

A few years ago, while working on a story about wildfires, a V appeared to me in a satellite image of a smoke plume over Canada. That image made me wonder: could I track down all 26 letters of the English alphabet using only NASA satellite imagery and astronaut photography?

With the help of readers and colleagues, I started to collect images of ephemeral features like clouds, phytoplankton blooms, and dust clouds that formed shapes reminiscent of letters. Some letters, like O and C, were easy to find. Others—A, B, and R—were maddeningly difficult. Note that the A below is cursive. And if you can find a better example of any letter (in NASA imagery), send us an email with the date, latitude, and longitude.

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Reminder: USGIF Job Fair Jan 11

Attend GEOINT Community
Job Fair Jan. 11


Join USGIF Jan. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Dulles in Herndon, Va. for its GEOINT Community Job Fair. The event is free for job seekers to find the employers that match their skills and dedication to the Defense, Intelligence, and Homeland Security communities. Speak with representatives from 20+ companies and take advantage of career panel discussions, personal branding sessions, and complimentary headshots!

Job Seeker USGIF

Learn Python Coursera Course Starts Today!!

Through University of Michigan  December 28th – Feb 22nd

About this Course

This course aims to teach everyone the basics of programming computers using Python. We cover the basics of how one constructs a program from a series of simple instructions in Python. The course has no pre-requisites and avoids all but the simplest mathematics. Anyone with moderate computer experience should be able to master the materials in this course. This course will cover Chapters 1-5 of the textbook “Python for Informatics”. This course is equivalent to the first half of the 11-week “Programming for Everybody (Python)” course. Once a student completes this course, they will be ready to take more advanced programming courses.

Coursera Python

For Our Mapathon Volunteers and Potential Volunteers!

From Open Street Map

Posted by dekstop on 2 December 2015 in English (English)

I had a recent shift in perspective in my research of HOT contributor engagement. I will try to articulate a growing intuition: a sense that current-generation HOT tools and processes would do well to also recognise the secondary benefits HOT volunteers get from their participation, for example their social experiences. I think we currently don’t necessarily create social online spaces for new contributors, and that is an omission of some consequence. In contrast to Wikipedia and comparable platforms, HOT contributors are not also typically the primary beneficiaries of the collective output. Secondary benefits can make up for this lack in direct utility: they have important motivational power.

As usual, please let me know your thoughts on this. It’s informed by my own experiences of the HOT and Missing Maps community, and I am very curious to learn what I might have overlooked, how else to express it, or find other ways to look at things.

Continue reading For Our Mapathon Volunteers and Potential Volunteers!

Coursera Certificate in DATA SCIENCE

The Most Coveted Coursera Certificates

When you share your Course or Specialization Certificate on LinkedIn, you’re showing employers that you have the motivation and talent to complete rigorous courses from a top university. Take a look back at the most-shared Certificates of 2015*, and enroll now to add in-demand skills to your resume in the new year.


Johns Hopkins

Ask the right questions, manipulate data sets, and create visualizations to communicate results.

This Specialization covers the concepts and tools you’ll need throughout the entire data science pipeline, from asking the right kinds of questions to making inferences and publishing results. In the final Capstone Project, you’ll apply the skills learned by building a data product using real-world data. At completion, students will have a portfolio demonstrating their mastery of the material.

coursera data science

The Future of the Map – The Maps of the Future

International Map Industry Association

New and innovative technologies have an important impact into what cartographers are doing. In the geospatial domains we can witness, that more spatial data than ever is produced currently. Numerous sensors of all kinds are available, measuring values, storing them in databases which are linked to other databases being embedded in whole spatial data infrastructures, following standards and accepted rules. We can witness also that we are not short of ever more new modern technologies for all parts of the spatial data handling processes, including data acquisition (e.g. UAVs currently), data modelling (e.g. service oriented architectures, cloud computing), data visualisation and dissemination (e.g. Location-based Services, augmented reality). So, where are we now with all those brave new developments?

Obviously we are not short of data in many ways. Clearly we can state, that it is rather the opposite. The problem is often not that we don’t have enough data but rather too many. We need to make more and more efforts, to deal with all those data in an efficient sense, mining the relevant information and link and select the appropriate information for a particular scenario. This phenomenon is being described as “big data”. Often application developments start there. Because we have access to data, we make something with them. We link them, we analyse them, we produce applications out of them. I call this a data-driven approach.

Continue reading The Future of the Map – The Maps of the Future

Top Ten Geospatial Developments of 2015

Written by Matt Ball Published: 15 December 2015

In our regular end-of-the-year reflection, Sensors & Systems looks back over the past 12 months to come up with the top developments of 2015 that will have strong implications for geospatial industry growth and diversity in the coming years. Making the list are technology disruptions, acquisitions, modeling frameworks, mapping efforts and global change.

1. Google’s Mapping Effort Gets to Ten Years and Is Retooled — Early this year Google and their mapping efforts Google Maps and Google Earth eclipsed the ten-year mark. At the same time, they saw a number of high-profile mapping people leave and they decided to mothball their Google Earth Enterprise effort. The company has a lot of very interesting mapping assets however, and clearly mapping provides the platform for so much of what they do from local search to autonomous vehicles. We are watching and waiting for their next move.

2. Uber Acquires Map Talent — The international transportation network company, powered by a smartphone app and empowered by cloud-based technology, is hiring many mapping people. Uber hired Brian McClendon who ran Google’s mapping effort, and they recently hired Manik Bupta who had a product role at Google Maps. It will be interesting to see what technology comes from this mapping and transportation technology pairing.

3. Nokia Sells Here to Automobile Consortium — The sale of Nokia’s Here maps unit to the automaker consortium of Audi, BMW and Mercedes for $3 Billion, is another notable pairing of maps and transportation. The automakers relate the importance of precision maps for the future of mobility. The lidar sensors that Here has been using provide a very accurate map that we have yet to see in any sort of online mapping application. That may never be the end goal though as with this precision, they’re obviously interested for safety and navigation aspects of autonomous vehicles.

4. Significant Advancements in Virtual Reality — The emergence of high-resolution goggle-type headsets (Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s Hololens, among others) means that virtual reality is making leaps toward our living rooms. The likely first foray will be gaming and entertainment applications, but serious commercial platforms to extend virtual reality toward augmented reality are also coming online, such as the infrastructure-oriented DAQRI helmet. These empowering and immersive new devices will be huge consumers of maps and models, and it will be fascinating to see how they pair the two.

5. Smallsats Continue to Proliferate — The number of Silicon Valley-based smallsat providers just got bigger with the addition of Hera Systems. This newest player has plans for affordable high-resolution imagery with a constellation of nine one-meter resolution satellites in October 2016 with plans to expand to 48 satellites with imaging technology licensed from NASA. This joins Planet Labs and Google SkyBox as one more credible player that will drive down imagery cost and increase the exploitation of imagery insight, with a focus on information and analytics.


– See more at: 15

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