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Monday, August 13, 2012

Small satellites and light payloads for earth observation were the topic for a keynote presentation I attended yesterday given by Dr. Pete Worden, director, NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in the Bay Area. Worden was speaking at the Space and Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville, Alabama. In his presentation, he discussed the tenuous situation in which the United States finds itself to launch satellites to monitor and assess environmental and climate conditions in order to replace an aging fleet. Citing the decadal survey (complete report in PDF) by the National Academies that concluded that our current constellation of environmental satellites is "at risk of collapse," Worden recommended a program for small satellite development called Venture Class. "If we don’t go in this direction, our competitors will," said Worden.

According to a NASA press release from June 12th, "The Earth Venture missions are part of NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder program. The small, targeted science investigations complement NASA's larger research missions." One of the objectives of Venture class satellites is to launch a constellation of satellites on a single launch vehicle. These "small sats" weigh approximately 150kg or about 330 lbs. By contrast, Landsat 7 weighs 5000 lbs. or about 2270kg.

An example of some of the small satellites for earth observation are being constructed by Surrey Satellite Technologies, Ltd. in the UK that have sub-meter accuracy for panchromatic imagery and weigh approximately 350Kg.

Another innovation discussed by Worden were "cubesats." Think milk carton-sized instruments with cell phone-like electronics that can be stacked together. And what about ground stations for data recovery? Think "Dish Network" antennas that fit in your backyard.

Worden see that it's possible to get away from long lead time for satellite development and focus on using smaller launch vehicles." Commenting on cubesats and other lightweight instruments, Worden says, "It changes space from a launch and develop problem to an application problem; [with] multiple sensors – it’s a revolution that is coming (in 5-10 years) the limitations is the ability to get these things into space."

by Joe Francica on 08/13 at 11:52 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Raleigh, N.C.-based EREF also has come up with a way to take that customized data and determine any correlations that might explain why a recycling program isn’t doing so well in a particular area, the organization said in a news release.

EREF’s method uses new tracking techniques and geographical information system (GIS) data. It allows for recycling rates to be computed for a neighborhood, a street or an individual resident.

Once that data is obtained, EREF can overlay demographic information to find any correlations that would identify reasons behind low rates.

The Environmental Research and Education Foundation's mission is to develop and evaluate new approaches to manage municipal solid waste and to provide scholarships to America’s brightest and best. I could find no details on the EREF website about the "way" - if it's software, if it's open source or any further information.

- Waste360

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/13 at 05:38 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

"They teach GIS in high school now," Osborne added, with an I-am-too-old eye-roll. "He's looking for a part-time job."

- John Osborne, a Manatee County planning describing an unpaid intern, Mark Groom, who helped put together an online hotel development database accompanied by a color map for Manatee County, FL. He's quoted in the Bradenton Herald.
by Adena Schutzberg on 08/13 at 05:00 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The National Information Security and Geospatial Technologies Consortium (NISGTC) is seeking more students for its three-year, $20 million federal grant established last year. Collin College [TX] serves as the lead for the consortium that includes Bellevue College, Bunker Hill Community College, Del Mar College, Moraine Valley Community College, Rio Salado College and Salt Lake Community College.
The program is aimed at retraining those whose jobs have been sent overseas. It specializes in training individuals in cybersecurity, geospatial technology, programming and networking, and data communications. This is the first I've heard of the program since the grant was announced. I've heard nothing from Bunker Hill CC, just up the road from me.
In India, a small pilot of caree-focused GIS intruction was begun in 2010. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Rolta built the program. After a few more pilots the program is set to expand across the country. Training is taking place at two of Rolta's facilities.
Now the Board is planning to expand the reach of the course across the country from the session 2013-14. In this context Board has decided to organize the following Workshop and Teachers Training programmes...
The Rocky Mountain chapter of URISA is offering two $500 scholarships to any undergraduate or graduate student attending school in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah or Wyoming. Applications are due Sept 7.

- details via GIS User

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/13 at 03:01 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Last August, a car with a complicated camera rig mounted on its roof spent two-and-a-half weeks patrolling the county [Columbia County, GA], covering more than 1,130 miles and 2,500 sections of road. Its goal, to provide an accurate portrait of Columbia County in three dimension. Called Earthmine, it’s the same technology that recently touched down on Mars with NASA’s Curiosity rover.

The early adopter county paid a discounted $75,000 for the work and already has 60 people in the county using the application and its data. The outlay of cash has already saved the the county as much, say officials. I noted this work earlier this year (APB coverage).

- Columbia County News Times

A map [Google MyMap] by the Washington Office on Latin America’s (WOLA) Border Fact Check project shows that despite criticisms, the closing of seven US Border Patrol stations is unlikely to affect any drug smuggling or human trafficking activity along the southern US border.

The argument is that the seven stations are more than 100 miles from a border (Mexican or Canadian) and are unlikely to have much impact. The closings will save  $1.3 million which could be reallocated to other geographies for enforcement.

- Insight Crime

Schmidt calls himself a “geo-geek,” somebody who is enthusiastic about geography and the technology that creates maps and analysis using diverse sets of data.

While Schmidt is comfortable with terminology like “spatial data,” “pictometry” and “thematic mapping,” he is attuned to members of the public who might not be.

Eric Schmidt leads the GIS team at Douglas County, NV which is profiled in the local paper. You can test the public GIS offerings to see if they are attuned the non-GIS user. There is growing evidence that "pictometry" is for better or worse becoming a generic term in our industry. It's name of a company: Pictometry.

- Record Courier

by Adena Schutzberg on 08/13 at 02:41 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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