While this week’s launch of two of the satellites for the Galileo constellation there has been quite a bit of information ramping up for the yet unusable system. BUT with the EU having worked so hard to make Galileo a reality it is good to see that there they are trying to make sure that it will capture the attention of industry and consumers alike. With GLONASS‘s aging and yet incomplete constellation and the GPS constellation also seeing an aging infrastructure and unclear upgrade path thanks to reduced budgets over recent years (not to mention continuing uncertainty on the Lightsquared front), it is great to see the EU making visible progress (as well as China) in deploying new positioning systems. Below is a video about Galileo and this link takes you to a BBC look at a satellite during construction.
NASA has teamed with Japan’s Earth Remote Sensing Data Analysis Center to create a new topographic map covering 99% of the Earth’s landmass. The maps are created using two sets of data from Japan’s ASTER sensor which are slightly offset from one another. Merging the data creates a 3D look like Google Earth’s topographic display. The elevation measurements are 30 meters apart. The real benefit here is that it’s the first global elevation model and it’s freely available for anyone in the world to use. Furthermore, since it’s using the existing ASTER sensor, new models can be built often, which allows for significant change detection from year to year. That’s especially important in areas like West Virginia, where mining techniques can have a significant impact on the topography. Watch the video at the link for more information and some great visuals!
Sketch Up has announced their first annual Halloween Challenge. You can pick three categories: 1:Jack 0’Lantern, 2: Haunted House, 3: Both together. You need to fill out a challenge submission form and upload your model to 3D Warehouse in publicly downloadable format. The SketchUp team will judge the entries on October 28th. Here is a link to Googlemeister’s Amazing Haunted House Walk Through Collection from last year in 3D Modeler.
Ok, not Mars. Not just yet, at least. Researchers have created really cool science project called MAPPER. The idea is to leverage citizen scientists to comb through data and find signs of life on far away planets. For now, they have tapped into a couple of DeepWorker bots currently exploring the depths of two lakes in Canada. It’s more or less a groundwork (or more like underwater groundwork, I guess) project to lay down the foundations for a system that could be used on other planets. The system uses a cool web interface that should be immediately recognizable to anyone who plays games. Taking a clue from modern gaming, the scientists have built in social media and achievements. Let’s be honest – who DOESN’T want to unlock the ‘Found Life On Other Planet’ achievement?
I really like that quote. The good folks at the Center for Environmental Research Technology (CERT) at the University of California have been engaged in researching new fuel efficiency technology. Their conclusions – fix the driver, not the car. The way we drive has a huge impact on the efficiency of our vehicles. The researchers at CERT estimate you can realize a much as a 30% increase in fuel efficiency with some changes to your driving habits. Unfortunately, we don’t like to change how we drive. The team is trying to develop ways which give the driver feedback on ‘good’ habits that increase fuel efficiency as well as ‘bad’ habits. The trick is doing so without being obnoxious (a trick I’ve never personally learned, as I’m sure Sue and Jesse will attest). They’ve used a variety of techniques, from visual chances on the dashboard to audio clues to force feedback on your gas pedal. The hard part is walking the line between good information and not distracting information. As the research notes, better use of navigation tied to smart traffic networks will reduce start/stop traffic and needless idling, which helps even more.
As a bit of a ‘hypermiler’ from an early age, I can tell you these tricks can really impact your fuel efficiency in a positive way.
Flickr has added a pretty cool new feature to their API set – Geofences. The idea is based upon the increasing concern over privacy, particularly spatial privacy. In the past versions of the API, one could only make the spatial location available to all or hide it from all. Geofences adds the ability to specify where ‘public’ photos are taken in your stream and where ‘private’ photos are taken. You can then share your ‘private’ fence with different classes of people of your choosing. For instance, you might make photos taken in and around your home in a ‘Family and Friends’ private Geofence and those taken at a public park as a public Geofence. The neat thing is you set the geofence spatially. You draw an area around a place you want to be private and by default any photos taken within that area are private. It’s a fairly cool implementation of privacy and it allows you to change your feelings about place without having to edit a ton of photos to reflect that change. Plus, to be honest, I love the phrase ‘geofence’ ?
NOAA just released a fascinating video showing the birth and death of hurricane Irene as seen from space. The video was created from imagery captured by the GOES-13 weather satellite. This lovely new satellite captures a view every 30 minutes and has been running for a little over a year (more to be found about this satellite at the link).
Wired has a beautiful article highlighting the views of US National Parks as seen from space. The views are simply breathtaking. I think a lot of people in the US forget our National Park system features some truly majestic and amazing places on the Earth. Looking at them from space gives a whole new appreciation of their wonder, if you ask me. Furthermore, it highlights how critical remote sensing is to our modern existence. Having this type of data available isn’t just beautiful, it’s important for understanding how our land changes over time.
Each entry features a little background on the park and a couple of views from various sources. The vast majority of the data comes from NASA’s Earth Observatory site. There are a number of GeoEye images and one from the University of Maryland’s Global Land Cover Facility as well.
I get to make a cheesy statement here about how Garmin-Cervelo race team has found their way to the top in August with Garmin, but I think the picture on their home page explains it better. You can follow the official Garmin Team on Garmin Connect or sign up to support them via Facebook or Twitter. They have some really cool team apparel including some national champion bike jerseys. Jean-François Phillips has a blog called Tour de France or Bust where he is going to us a Garmin GPS to track the route of the 2011 Tour de France on a day-by-day basis starting August 27, 2011. He is doing it to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes. You can also visit the official Le Tour de France site to find out more about the route or its famous history.