Geospatial Gif Party: Now with NASA LEGO

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 “Geospatial Gif Party: Now with NASA LEGO”

3D printing and GIS

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 “3D printing and GIS”

Remote Sensing as Art

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.

Cat Tracks

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.

New Poll: DIY Imagery

5990888651_7cdbf146ae_zThere is a wealth of ways to get imagery today from buying or downloading satellite imagery to hiring a company to fly your project, but it is the low cost, low effort DIY imagery that is the most exciting and fun. The picture to the right is one of many that is available from Flickr, and other photo sites, that was taken with one of these methods (in this case a kite). With that in mind, the new poll wants to know what technology you prefer to use or are interested in using to capture low altitude imagery. Head over and share your thoughts. If you have a method that isn’t listed leave a comment on this post and I will add it to the list.

New Hampshire to Consider Aerial Photography Ban

New Hampshire has a new bill circulating through its legislature that would ban aerial photography by anyone who isn’t the government. They’ve apparently amended the ban in committee that changes some of the major concerns, but a lot still remain. The original bill include kite cams or any other form of aerial photography collection, but the amended ban has scaled that back. The focus seems to be upon drones and, oddly enough, arming drones. If the ban goes into effect, flying a drone would be a misdemeanor, with certain licensed exceptions. The bill also specifies that drones can only be used by law enforcement to collect data if they’ve received a warrant, and even then the information needs to be destroyed within 24 hours.

Drones and the legalities surrounding them are likely to dominate a lot of remote sensing legalese over the next few years. This may be the first such attempt at banning for non-governmental use, but I’m willing to almost bet real money it won’t be the last.

2013 IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest – registration open until May submission dates

The 2013 IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest scientific challenge has been held annually since 2006.  The Data Fusion Contest is organized by the Data Fusion Technical Committee of the IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society (GRSS) in order to educate and promote best practices in data fusion applications. It is comprised of two individual contests: 1) Best Paper Award and 2) Best Classification Award, users can participate in one or both contests. This year’s contest uses hyperspectral and LiDAR fusion datasets of the University of Houston campus and neighboring area.

The Best Classification Award results must be submitted between February 16, 2013 and May 1, 2013.  The Best Paper Award manuscripts need to be submitted by May 31, 2013

2013 IEEE GRSS Data Fusion Contest winners will receive one 16GB WiFi iPad (provided by DigitalGlobe, Inc.), their results submitted for peer review to an IEEE-GRSS Journal, and attendance at the Data Fusion Technical Committees and Chapters Luncheon of the 2013 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2013.