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CP-23 - Google Earth Engine

Google Earth Engine (GEE) is a cloud-based platform for planetary scale geospatial data analysis and communication.  By placing more than 17 petabytes of earth science data and the tools needed to access, filter, perform, and export analyses in the same easy to use application, users are able to explore and scale up analyses in both space and time without any of the hassles traditionally encountered with big data analysis.  Constant development and refinement have propelled GEE into one of the most advanced and accessible cloud-based geospatial analysis platforms available, and the near real time data ingestion and interface flexibility means users can go from observation to presentation in a single window.

DC-26 - Remote Sensing Platforms

Remote sensing means acquiring and measuring information about an object or phenomenon via a device that is not in physical or direct contact with what is being studied (Colwell, 1983).To collect remotely sensed data, a platform – an instrument that carries a remote sensing sensor – is deployed. From the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s, various platforms such as balloons, kites, and pigeons carried mounted cameras to collect visual data of the world below. Today, aircraft (both manned and unmanned) and satellites collect the majority of remotely sensed data. The sensors typically deployed on these platforms include film and digital cameras, light-detection and ranging (LiDAR) systems, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems, and multi-spectral and hyper-spectral scanners. Many of these instruments can be mounted on land-based platforms, such as vans, trucks, tractors, and tanks. In this chapter, we will explore the different types of platforms and their resulting remote sensing applications.

DC-27 - Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)

LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a remote sensing technology that collects information reflected or refracted from the Earth’s surface. The instrumentation that collects LiDAR data can be housed on drones, airplanes, helicopters, or satellites, and consists of a laser scanner that transmits pulses of light. These transmitted pulses reflect or refract from objects on the Earth’s surface or from the surface itself, and the time delay is recorded. Knowing the travel time and the speed of light, an elevation of each pulse above the surface can be determined. From the pulse data collected, the user can determine the topography and landscape features of the Earth or whatever surface has received the pulses. The evolution of software that displays and analyzes LiDAR data and the development of new and more compact file formats have allowed the use of LiDAR to grow dramatically in recent years.

DC-24 - Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are revolutionizing how GIS&T researchers and practitioners model and analyze our world. Compared to traditional remote sensing approaches, UAS provide a largely inexpensive, flexible, and relatively easy-to-use platform to capture high spatial and temporal resolution geospatial data. Developments in computer vision, specifically Structure from Motion (SfM), enable processing of UAS-captured aerial images to produce three-dimensional point clouds and orthophotos. However, many challenges persist, including restrictive legal environments for UAS flight, extensive data processing times, and the need for further basic research. Despite its transformative potential, UAS adoption still faces some societal hesitance due to privacy concerns and liability issues.