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Mapping

Space

NASA successfully launches SMAP satellite

On its third attempt, NASA has successfully launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite atop a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket. The orbiter is designed to take high resolution moisture maps on a global scale, mapping the entire planet in the space of only two to three days. The maps will grant us an improved ability to forecast droughts, floods, and even aid agricultural workers in crop planning and rotation.Read More

Space

NASA releases stunning global maps of six of Saturn's moons

NASA has released global maps of six of the Saturnian moons. The system has been under the intense examination of the Cassini-Huygens mission for the past decade, and the completion of the global maps represents the end of one of the legendary spacecraft's key mission objectives. Almost all of the maps are whole, though there are currently parts of Iapetus unfinished, as well as a region of the north pole of Enceladus set to be filled in some time next year.Read More

Science

UAVs could map the bottom of the sea, using new lidar tech

When an organization sets out to map the sea floor, it will typically use a device known as a bathymetric lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) unit. These are large and can weigh almost 600 lb (272 kg), so they're mounted on crewed aircraft that fly over the area to be mapped. Led by Dr. Grady Tuell, a team at Georgia Tech has now developed a cost-effective new system that they claim could lead to much smaller, more efficient bathymetric lidars, capable of being carried by a UAV. Read More

Robotics

Underwater robot provides first detailed, high-resolution 3D maps of Antarctic sea ice

Antarctic scientists have combined measurements provided by an underwater robot with existing satellite data to show that Antarctic sea ice may be thicker than previously thought. Their first-of-a-kind high-resolution 3D maps cover over 500,000 square meters in the Weddell, Bellingshausen, and Wilkes Land sectors of Antarctica, and they reveal heavy deformation in all three near-coastal regions that produces mean sea-ice draft (thickness of the submerged part of the ice) far in excess of ice drilling and ship-based measurements. This is a big leap forward in our ability to understand why and how the ice is changing on both small and large scales.Read More

Marine

3D mapping project to monitor changes in sunken Pearl Harbor ships

The observance in the United States this week of Veterans Day, a federal holiday honoring those who have served in the American military, holds special meaning for those who lost loved ones when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii during World War II. An underwater 3D imaging project is using modern technology to bring greater insights to this tragic historical event. Read More

Electronics

NavVis performs Google-like 3D mapping, but quicker

When we first heard about the NavVis system a couple of years ago, it was being developed for indoor navigation. Developed by researchers at the Technical University of Munich, it utilizes maps consisting of location-tagged photos of the hallways of buildings. In order to figure out where they are, users just take a photo of their surroundings using their smartphone, then the NavVis app matches that photo up with one in its map. Now, the technology has been expanded to the point that it could give Google Street View a run for its money. Read More

Science

NIST's new laser technology allows high-definition 3D mapping at a distance

Using an enhanced LADAR (Laser Detection And Ranging) system, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have created a long-range, laser-based imaging device that can generate high-definition 3D maps of objects at distances of up to 10.5 m (35 ft). The technology could find applications in precision machining and assembly, as well as in forensics where it could map evidence non-destructively.Read More

Space

NASA satellite set to help farmers combat drought

NASA is set to launch a new satellite with the capacity to measure soil moisture on a global scale. Once operational, data from the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite could be used to better inform farmers in agricultural decision making, providing unprecedented levels of detail on moisture trends with an efficiency and speed unattainable using current technology. Read More

Space

NASA selects concept technologies for phase 2 NIAC funding

NASA has chosen five studies to advance to phase 2 of its Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The successful projects were chosen via a system of peer review, and represent the most promising technological concepts with the greatest potential to revolutionize the agency's approach to the building and operating of aerospace systems. Read More

Digital Cameras

Handheld HeatWave device produces 3D thermal maps in real-time

Thermal imaging has proven itself to be a useful adjunct to physical testing in areas including engineering, health, and agriculture. Until now, however, conventional 3D thermal imaging use has largely been restricted due to the specialized technical knowledge required to operate it and interpret the results. To address this, Australia's CSIRO has developed a prototype tool called HeatWave that is a lightweight, high-resolution 3D scanner that is claimed to be not only easy to carry, but easy to use as well.Read More

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