NASA has posted two news items that illustrate the large amounts of data that they are generating. NASA| The Data Downpour is a video describing how the GPM constellation turns observed radiances and reflectivities of global precipitation – falling snow and rain – into data products. They detail this huge task in “GPM Mission’s How-to Guide for Making Global Rain Maps“. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Precipitation Processing System (Greenbelt, Maryland) is tasked with compiling remote sensing data from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The data set will eventually become one unified global data set. A simplified version of a very exacting process, as any geospatial professional will tell you. Continue reading
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has introduced some very exciting backyard citizen science applications that utilize remote sensing data. One of them is The YardMap citizen science project funded by the National Science Foundation Information Education Program or advancing informal STEM Learning (AISL), as it is known now. YardMap is designed to cultivate a richer understanding of bird habitat, for both professional scientists and people concerned with their local environments. It is also a great way to make your yard bird friendly. So far they have had 8098 YardMaps drawn using the YardMap Tool.
Today, NASA, geospatial scientists, and people from around the world celebrate the first time that we saw Earth, in a now familiar view, from space. Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., the first American in space, took the famous photo from the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule on May 5, 1961. The Space Fellowship website and community discuss “The Pioneering Mercury Astronauts Launched America’s Future” . The Kennedy Space Center Historical Archive of Manned Space Flights gives a detailed mission objective for the Freedom 7 from May 5th. If you want to relive the moment, Extreme Tech provides a live video feed of Earth from Space, as part of the High Definition Earth Viewing experiment.
The Federation of American Scientists has an information rich remote sensing tutorial that states, “Before entering this Overview, ponder this slogan: REMOTE SENSING is the BACKBONE of the SPACE PROGRAM”. The backbone of modern remote sensing might well be education, innovation, and experimentation – Alan B. Shepard said that , “The first plane ride was in a homemade glider my buddy and I built. Unfortunately we didn’t get more than four feet off the ground, because it crashed.” Educators, citizen scientists, and hobbyists of all types are creating hands-on remote sensing and unmanned vehicle education that will inspire the next generation.
The funniest quote from an article in the Fairbanks News-Miner about how “To Hunt Easter Eggs the modern way, Fairbanks students grab GPS” is “When students in Kuntz’s multi-grade class raised the idea of holding an Easter egg hunt with their buddies, fourth-grader Tanja Gens volunteered her mother, Anupma Prakash, to lead it. Prakash is a professor of Remote Sensing Geology and Geophysics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.” The North Central Ohio Geocachers hosted a “Hunt Easter Eggs with GPS Units” event at The Crawford Park District. Danbury Park in Essex UK held a GPS Easter Egg Hunt for their Young Rangers.
Some towns are holding GPS Easter Egg Hunts for fun and to increase tourism. Many of these are more challenging than regular Easter Egg Hunts. They charge per team and require teams to bring their own handheld GPS unit. The town of Ninety Six held a GPS Easter Egg Hunt at Lake Greenwood State Park. The Vermillion River Reservation in Lorain County held one. The Northern Life Canada found that the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area combined “Easter Eggs, GPS, and Nature” into an Earth Day EGG-Stravaganza. Even REI Outdoor Outfitters held a class on Family Geocaching: Easter Egg Hunt.
Meteorologists made the Style section of the The Washington Post today in the article, “What’s it like to be the voice of the Polar Vortex? These Weathermen Know” Giving meteorologists an introduction worthy of a movie trailer, Rachel Lubitz asks, “So, what is it like to be the voice of this polar vortex, bringing the grim news about temperatures that are flirting with — and in some cases breaking — record lows?” It is a good introduction into how broadcast meteorologists approach their jobs. But what does it take to be a broadcast meteorologist? Continue reading
As you shiver in the cold today during what The Weather Channel is predicting could be the coldest winter on record for decades in North America, reflect on the 1780 snowstorm that hit George Washington’s army at Jockey Hollow in Morristown, NJ, now a National Park that commemorates the Continental Army’s winter encampment (December 1779 – June 1780). Here the soldiers survived the tail end of what historians and paleoclimatologists dub, “the little ice age”. Continue reading
I like visiting the blog, i09: We come from THE FUTURE, for my daily dose of fun science and science fiction news. This headline, “Here’s the first look at Lego’s official Curiosity Rover Model” is how I found out about the cool Lego model created by an actual NASA Mechanical Engineer who worked on parts for the Curiosity Rover. It’s suitably accurate enough to use in any classroom because space engineers are serious about accuracy for spacecraft and LEGO spacecraft. What caught my eye was a reply post that started, “Hey, I work with the New Horizons team (Pluto 2015!), and we’re pretty jealous of the Curiosity and Hayabusa sets, so we asked one of our Lego-obsessed scientist friends to make a model of the New Horizons Spacecraft for us and submit it to Cuusoo too!” and asks readers to register at and support their LEGO New Horizons Model. Within that comment section were more discussions about the accuracy of the LEGO model and its remote sensing technology like, “The star trackers need to be a piece, or pair of pieces, with the telescopes pointing at 90 degrees relative to each other”. It’s this attention to scientific accuracy and detail that makes i09 a fun site to visit. Continue reading
It is difficult to remember that last year the 3D printing industry hadn’t inundated the public consciousness because 3D printing and 3D visualizations were still an innovative, but not yet wide-spread technology. What a difference a year can make and how quickly a technology can go from innovation to necessity. Forbes magazine recently advised its audience on, “How to Invest in the 3d Printing Industry”, CNBC gave a basic overview of “What Investors Need to Know to About 3D Printing“, while the Motley Fool said that despite the fact that, “3-D Printing Stocks Got Hammered” their performance in the past year has been “simply astounding”. There are an increasing number of business sites devoted to the 3D printing industry including 3dprinting Industry.com and 3ders.org who predicts that the 3D printing market will be worth more than 8 billion by 2020. Continue reading
A few years ago, I ran across a fun website, called Be My Satellite, which promotes geoliteracy through collaborative satellite image-hacking. It is a type of large scale art installment that uses the spatial pixel grid as a creative tool, typically for Google satellite views. Another type of satellite art uses prints of images cut from Google Satellite View, Jenny Odell is a well known artist in this medium. Google Earth has generated many new types of art and revived others. Google Earth Art blog asks if Google Earth is the inspiration that revival landscape painting needs. Other artists and photographers, such as Mishka Henner featured in DPReview are creating open-source art from Google Earth images that provide new perspective about life on Earth – much like geospatial analysis. While in late October, Clyde Space and iam8bit is releasing an Andy Warhol-inspired satellite created by artists Jon Gibson and Amanda White into space, making it the first space art installment.
Therefore, when a local artist told me that she had been experimenting with large scale art that you can only view from the air, I got excited. I told her that she was talking about geo-spatial art and that it was an actual movement in the art world. I was able to discuss geographic information science, remote sensing, satellites, NASA, Google, and the crossover of geospatial technologies and art. It is always enjoyable when the topics that you like discussing and those that a friend enjoy discussing coincide – no matter how seemingly esoteric. The next step is to use one of the many satellite trackers to identify a potential satellite and ArcGIS to mock up the installation. The hard part will be the attempts to align the two up just right – which makes art and geospatial technologies a challenge.
The BBC News Science & Environment section has an article on “The Secret Life of the cat: What do our feline companions get up to?” with an interactive map of cats in a Surrey Village. It was created by BBC Two’s Horizon Program and researchers at the Royal Veterinary College. It is based on a study by Dr. Alan Wilson, an animal movement specialist, at the Structure & Motion Laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College. In his article, “Secret Life of the Cat: The Science of Tracking Our Pets“, he provides information on the technical challenges of using GPS to track domestic cats. Like many scientists working in the field, Dr. Wilson has had to develop his own tracking equipment in order to study the movement of pigeons, sheep, cheetahs, wild dogs, and of course, cats. He is currently working on developing unmanned arial vehicles for remote sensing and movement tracking. Cats are a great way to introduce the public to interactive mapping, tracking, and geospatial concepts because cats and birds are the most popular pets in the world.
The combination of cat popularity and GPS even resulted in a best selling book, “Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology” about a writer’s determination to find out what her cat did when he went off into the “wild”. CNET has a good video, “Using GPS to Track Exactly Where Cats Creep“, about how the authors learned to track Tibi. The convoluted way they had to map his tracks illustrates the need for education on using GIS or an easy to use cat GIS, to go along with the easy to use cat tracking GPS market.