The Surui people, who have been so remote in the Brazilian forests that they were only ‘discovered’ in 1969, have turned to the high tech tools of Google Earth to help them protect their existence. Initial contacts with outsiders led them to fight, but bows and arrows proved rather useless compared to modern weapons. Since then, they have negotiated a peace, but their lands are continuously encroached upon. Enter Google Earth, which the tribe uses to monitor treaty breaking moves by logging companies. The whole story is a testament to how far web mapping has spread into our modern (and sometimes ancient) lives.
The Vulcan project is an interesting project out of Purdue University. They seek to “quantify North American fossil fuel carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at space and time scales much finer than has been achieved in the past.” They’ve just released a new carbon footprint map detailing fossil fuel based CO2 emissions from around the US. One of the interesting findings to come out of their effort is that we previously assumed that the North East portion of the country was the primary emitter in the country. Turns out while there’s a lot of truth in that, the coal fired plants of the South add nearly as much.
What’s interesting to me are the comments section of the Wired article that pointed me towards this site. People have come up with lots of interesting ways to expand and extend this research by including other bits of data, particularly human geography pieces.
I have to admit that I JUST started calling Imagine and other Leica Geosystems Geospatial Inc products â€œLeica Imagineâ€. Now I have to unlearn this behavior as they have rebranded as ERDAS, Inc. 1) In my opinion this is a great marketing move, at least for those of us who have used the software for the last decade and are used to the name. 2) Since geospatial has come a long way in the last 10 years, though I am sure this change will create the same â€˜confusionâ€™ (more a disorientation really) the initial purchase by Leica caused. 3) Since the companies products list has grown considerably over the last year, and with the release of 9.2, this is probably the best time for the change.
On top of it all, I must give praise to the site designers of http://www.erdas.com/ who have made it possible to easily find information on the software options. I am sure it will be even better when they do away with the redirects.
It’s a baby step, but an important one. NASA reported yesterday that they found the first evidence of an organic molecule in the atmosphere of a planet outside of the solar system. Methane was discovered in the atmosphere of planet HD 189733b (let’s call it planet ‘Moo-cow’ for simplicity) by the Hubble telescope. Plenty of methane has been discovered in the planets of the solar system, so it is far from declaring that planet Moo-Cow has life. However, it is a victory at the least for our remote sensing instruments!
February has definitely been a month for me to play catch-up. I just came across an article from early Feb in the Argus Leader about the new EROS director Eric Clemmons. Apparently he is moving to South Dakota from a position at NOAA where he was involved in their remote sensing group. With Landsat 8 near contract and Landsats 5 and 7 limping along, I would guess that it is an exciting time to be at EROS from the Landsat portion of their activity alone.
The Woods Hole Research Center has been working on the â€œNational Biomass and Carbon Dataset for the year 2000 (NBCD2000) and have just released datasets from the first nine project mapping zones. All NBCD2000 data products can be downloaded on a zone-by-zone basis from the NBCD2000 project website. The datasets are free, but you do have to register at the site. The NBCD project is a really impressive undertaking, utilizing data from Landsat and SRTM, and derived data products like the National Land Cover Dataset 2001, LANDFIRE (vegetation), and the National Elevation Dataset to model biomass zones.
The team’s hope is to continue releasing datasets approximately one every week or so, until the project is completed sometime in 2009. There is an online mapping tool for viewing and querying the progress of the NBCD zone mapping (although it did not seem to be working correctly when I visited the site). A static map image of the current progress can be found here.
Our reader Michelle sent us a quick email to let us know that the USGS has announced that Landsat 5 resumed imaging as of January 10th. Landsat 5 has been experiencing problems with its batteries, and the Landsat team has come up with a new procedure for charging the batteries to try to maintain a safe power balance. No new data has yet been released, but should start becoming available as it is processed.
It is just amazing how well Landsat 5 has lasted (It made its 125,000 orbit back in September) and the incredible efforts by the Landsat team to keep it and Landsat 7 up and running for image collection, and hopefully the good news will continue. If you haven’t checked out the Landsat Project website, you should definitely take a few minutes and browse around through the project history, image gallery, resources and other information on this amazing 35-year remote sensing effort.
The Messenger spacecraft is reporting back the first high resolution images of Mercury taken since the ’70′s. They’re over 3x better than anything we had before. The images are pretty fascinating!
Apparently Korea has lost contact with their Arirang 1 satellite which has been in orbit since 1999. Communications were lost one week ago (Dec 30) and they have been unable to reconnect. As is usual with aerospace engineering, the satellite was intended for a short life cycle (3 years) but had apparently been functioning for 8 years until the loss of communication. With a resolution of 6.5 meters, Arirang 1 was superseded in resolution by Arirang 2 which was launched in 2006 with a resolution of 1 meter. The article linked below suggests that Korea will consider the satellite lost if communications are not reconnected soon.
Although the National Applications Office, which we talked about a couple of months ago, has been put on hold for the time being, there are still lots of issues related to the domestic use of spy satellite imagery. In an article titled Domestic Spying, Inc, Tim Shorrock of CorpWatch (a watchdog group that focuses on investigating corporate corruption and fraud) discusses some of the issues related to the issue of domestic spying and geospatial intelligence, especially the heavy reliance on contractors. He discusses the work done by leading contractors such as BAE Systems and Harris, illustrated through their presentations and exhibits at GEOINT 2007. While Shorrock’s message is cautionary, and focuses on the need to ensure that there is appropriate oversight of the work to be done for agencies like the NGA and the proposed National Applications Office, the article is still an interesting read and raises some relevant issues in geospatial intelligence that we should all be aware of.