Tag Archives: remote sensing

Forest-Mapping Instrument for Space Station

written by NASA  22 Sept 2015 for Sensors & Systems

A laser-based instrument for mapping the 3-D structure of Earth’s forests has passed a major milestone toward deployment on the International Space Station (ISS). The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI), led by the University of Maryland, College Park, and built by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, successfully transitioned to “Phase B,” moving from requirements development and mission definition to preliminary design. GEDI will provide the first comprehensive, high-resolution measurements of the vertical canopy structure of Earth’s temperate and tropical forests.


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GIS: The Biggest Little Drone Market in the World


by • 29 October 2014

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in a two-day symposium on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) hosted by the Northern California American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). The event was held in Reno, Nevada, (otherwise known as “The Biggest Little City in the World”), and its purpose was to assemble UAS experts and enthusiasts to share information, showcase new technologies, and demonstrate systems in action – systems that support geographic information systems (GIS). Presentations covered a wide range of topics, including everything from vehicles, to software, to data collection, to workflow, cameras, and sensors. You can find my presentation here.

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Big video data could change how we do everything — from catching bad guys to tracking shoppers

November 30, 2014 7:30 AM
Sean Varah, MotionDSP

Everyone takes pictures and video with their devices. Parents record their kids’ soccer games, companies record employee training, police surveillance cameras at busy intersections run 24/7, and drones monitor pipelines in the desert.

With vast amounts of video growing vaster at a rate faster than the day before, and the hottest devices like drones decreasing in price and size until everyone has one (OK, not in their pocket quite yet) it’s time to start talking about mining this mass of valuable video data for useful purposes.

Julian Mann, the cofounder of Skybox Imaging — a company in the business of commercial satellite imagery and the developer advocate for Google Earth outreach — says that the new “Skybox for Good” program will provide “a constantly updated model of change of the entire planet” with the potential to “save lives, protect the environment, promote education, and positively impact humanity.”

Why? Google wants to understand what’s happening on this earth in real time. In August, it entered into an agreement to acquire Skybox, the company that launched two of the world’s smallest high-resolution imaging satellites. They orbit the earth and collect high-res images and video every day. The company plans to launch as many as 24 of these satellites, allowing Google to get near real-time data about the entire Earth.

SatelliteSatelliteGoogle will turn those pixels into data using sophisticated image processing and computer vision software, running on the immense Google cloud. A Skybox satellite might photograph or video a particular city several times per day, not for the static or moving imagery, but for the data gathered in each frame of each image. The significant value of the data comes from comparing it across time or location, looking for change. For example, when is that store’s parking lot full? What is the progress of the highway construction to build a new overpass? Which roads are open for faster delivery service during the day? Which movie theaters attract the most customers week-to-week? How have weather patterns changed over the past 24 hours, or from the same time last year?

Mining video data through “man + machine” artificial intelligence is new technology in search of unsolved problems. Could this be the next chapter in the ever-evolving technology revolution?

For the past 50 years, satellite imagery has only been available to the U.S. intelligence community and those countries with technology to launch their own. Digital Globe was one of the first companies to make satellite imagery available commercially, and now Skybox and a few others have joined them. Drones are even newer, having been used by the U.S. military since the ‘90s for surveillance over battlefields or, in this age of counter-terrorism, playing the role of aerial detectives finding bad guys in the middle of nowhere. Before drones, the same tasks required thousands of troops on the ground, putting many young men and women in harm’s way. Today, hundreds of trained “eyes” safely located here in the U.S. watch hours of video from a single drone to assess current situations in countries far away.

Google is interested in satellites in space taking constant video of earth, and Facebook and Amazon are interested in drones for a myriad of reasons, from imaging to package delivery to wireless Internet delivery in rural areas and more.

Watching videos can be tedious and fatiguing for humans. Computers don’t get tired of watching thousands of hours of a robot scanning an underwater pipeline. They can detect a crack on frame 111,432 and alert a human expert to have a closer look. A human might see the crack after watching all those frames in real-time. Might.

Two years ago, the police needed hundreds of detectives and hours to cull through massive amounts of surveillance video taken around the scene of the bombing at the Boston Marathon to assemble the clues that ultimately identified and located the bombers. What if they had software to help them catch the bad guys sooner?

Even more importantly, imagine all the new opportunities created by this growing mass of video data. The ideas are infinite, and we know that in our innovative world, a commercial industry or two will establish itself in light speed.

Sean Varah is founder and chief executive of MotionDSP, a company that makes advanced image processing and video analytics software.


Why Google Earth Has Old Imagery

From: Ted.Com
We’re all familiar with satellite imagery, but what we might not know is that much of it is out of date. That’s because satellites are big and expensive, so there aren’t that many of them up in space. As he explains in this fascinating talk, Dan Berkenstock and his team came up with a different solution, designing a cheap, lightweight satellite with a radically new approach to photographing what’s going on on Earth. Click here to see Berkenstock’s Ted Talk.

Private Satellites Raise Profits, Privacy Concerns

From: www.sensorsandsystems.com

 A sample image from a Planet Labs mini-satellite over Canada. Planet Labs
A sample image from a Planet Labs mini-satellite over Canada. Planet Labs
Planet Labs has more than two dozen pint-size orbiters sitting on the International Space Station. Over the next several days, if all goes as planned, astronauts will have pushed them out the door. The effort is the most ambitious yet to build a business on the back of so-called nano-satellites — miniature satellites that, until now, have been largely the domain of researchers. It’s also a sign of the coming of age of such shoebox-size orbiters, which are becoming an increasingly important tool in space. Read More

Satellite Images Reveal UK Flood Impact

From: www. sensorsandsystems.com

Airbus Defence and Space has released before and after satellite imagery showing the extent of recent flooding around Bridgewater in the UK. Airbus DS’s Spot 6 Earth observation satellite captured images of the River Parrett near Bridgewater in south west England on 8 June 2013, and then again on 11 February 2014 after the river had breached its banks following heavy rainfall.

Spot 6 forms part of t he Airbus Defence and Space constellation of optical and radar satellites with superior change detection capabilities that help to support flood damage assessment.

Click here to download the before and after images:


– See more at: http://www.sensorsandsystems.com/news/top-stories/corporate-news/33093-satellite-images-reveal-uk-flood-impact.html#sthash.lD8j56xK.dpuf

“How Our World Would Look–If You Were a Bird


Famous landmarks like the Arc Du Triumph, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Sagrada Familia have been photographed countless times by photographers from around the world, and they are recognizable to most, if not all, of us. But this collection of stunning aerial photographs gives us a bird’s-eye-view of these places, casting them in a totally new light. (Thanks, Mat!)