I’ve been away from the blog for awhile, but thought I’d catch up a bit. I am in beautiful Madison Wisconsin (Lake Mendota! 90 degrees! Rain! Fried cheese curds!) for the NASA LP DAAC User Working Group meeting. This is a cool deal where imagery and product users meet with NASA team leaders to review products and tools. Since this UWG process is new to me, I am highlighting some of the key fun things I learned.
What is a DAAC?
A DAAC is a Distributed Active Archive Center, run by NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). These are discipline-specific facilities located throughout the United States. These institutions are custodians of EOS mission data and ensure that data will be easily accessible to users. Each of the 12 EOSDIS DAACs process, archive, document, and distribute data from NASA's past and current Earth-observing satellites and field measurement programs. For example, if you want to know about snow and ice data, visit the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) DAAC. Want to know about social and population data? Visit the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Data Center (SEDAC). These centers of excellence are our taxpayer money at work collecting, storing, and sharing earth systems data that are critical to science, sustainability, economy, and well-being.
What is the LP DAAC?
The Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC) is one of several discipline-specific data centers within the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). The LP DAAC is located at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. LP DAAC promotes interdisciplinary study and understanding of terrestrial phenomena by providing data for mapping, modeling, and monitoring land-surface patterns and processes. To meet this mission, the LP DAAC ingests, processes, distributes, documents, and archives data from land-related sensors and provides the science support, user assistance, and outreach required to foster the understanding and use of these data within the land remote sensing community.
Why am I here?
Each NASA DAAC has established a User Working Group (UWG). There are 18 people on the LP DAAC committee, 12 members from the land remote sensing community at large, like me! Some cool stuff going on. Such as...
Two upcoming launches are super interesting and important to what we are working on. First, GEDI (Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation) will produce the first high resolution laser ranging observations of the 3D structure of the Earth. Second, ECOSTRESS (The ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station), will measure the temperature of plants: stressed plants get warmer than plants with sufficient water. ECOSTRESS will use a multispectral thermal infrared radiometer to measure surface temperature. The radiometer will acquire the most detailed temperature images of the surface ever acquired from space and will be able to measure the temperature of an individual farmer's field. Both of these sensors will be deployed on the International Space Station, so data will be in swaths, not continuous global coverage. Also, we got an update from USGS on the USGS/NASA plan for the development and deployment of Landsat 10. Landsat 9 comes 2020, Landsat 10 comes ~2027.
Other Data Projects
We heard from other data providers, and of course we heard from NEON! Remember I posted a series of blogs about the excellent NEON open remote sensing workshop I attended last year. NEON also hosts a ton of important ecological data, and has been thinking through the issues associated with cloud hosting. Tristin Goulden was here to give an overview.
NASA staff gave us a series of demos on their WebGIS services; AppEEARS; and their data website. Their webGIS site uses ArcGIS Enterprise, and serves web image services, web coverage services and web mapping services from the LP DAAC collection. This might provide some key help for us in IGIS and our REC ArcGIS online toolkits. AppEEARS us their way of providing bundles of LP DAAC data to scientists. It is a data extraction and exploration tool. Their LP DAAC data website redesign (website coming soon), which was necessitated by the requirement for a permanent DOI for each data product.
LP DAAC is going full-force in user engagement: they do workshops, collect user testimonials, write great short pieces on “data in action”, work with the press, and generally get the story out about how NASA LP DAAC data is used to do good work. This is a pretty great legacy and they are committed to keep developing it. Lyndsey Harriman highlighted their excellent work here.
Grand Challenges for remote sensing
Some thoughts about our Grand Challenges: 1) Scaling: From drones to satellites. It occurs to me that an integration between the ground-to-airborne data that NEON provides and the satellite data that NASA provides had better happen soon; 2) Data Fusion/Data Assimilation/Data Synthesis, whatever you want to call it. Discovery through datasets meeting for the first time; 3) Training: new users and consumers of geospatial data and remote sensing will need to be trained; 4) Remote Sensible: Making remote sensing data work for society.
A primer on cloud computing
We spent some time on cloud computing. It has been said that cloud computing is just putting your stuff on “someone else’s computer”, but it is also making your stuff “someone else’s problem”, because cloud handles all the painful aspects of serving data: power requirements, buying servers, speccing floor space for your servers, etc. Plus, there are many advantages of cloud computing. Including: Elasticity. Elastic in computing and storage: you can scale up, or scale down or scale sideways. Elastic in terms of money: You pay for only what you use. Speed. Commercial clouds CPUs are faster than ours, and you can use as many as you want. Near real time processing, massive processing, compute intensive analysis, deep learning. Size. You can customize this; you can be fast and expensive or slow and cheap. You use as much as you need. Short-term storage of large interim results or long-term storage of data that you might use one day.
Image courtesy of Chris Lynnes
We can use the cloud as infrastructure, for sharing data and results, and as software (e.g. ArcGIS Online, Google Earth Engine). Above is a cool graphic showing one vision of the cloud as a scaled and optimized workflow that takes advantage of the cloud: from pre-processing, to analytics-optimized data store, to analysis, to visualization. Why this is a better vision: some massive processing engines, such as SPARC or others, require that data be organized in a particular way (e.g. Google Big Table, Parquet, or DataCube). This means we can really crank on processing, especially with giant raster stacks. And at each step in the workflow, end-users (be they machines or people) can interact with the data. Those are the green boxes in the figure above. Super fun discussion, leading to importance of training, and how to do this best. Tristan also mentioned Cyverse, a new NSF project, which they are testing out for their workshops.
Image attribution: Corey Coyle
Super fun couple of days. Plus: Wisconsin is green. And warm. And Lake Mendota is lovely. We were hosted at the University of Wisconsin by Mutlu Ozdogan. The campus is gorgeous! On the banks of Lake Mendota (image attribution: Corey Coyle), the 933-acre (378 ha) main campus is verdant and hilly, with tons of gorgeous 19th-century stone buildings, as well as modern ones. UW was founded when Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848, UW–Madison is the flagship campus of the UW System. It was the first public university established in Wisconsin and remains the oldest and largest public university in the state. It became a land-grant institution in 1866. UW hosts nearly 45K undergrad and graduate students. It is big! It has a med school and a law school on campus. We were hosted in the UW red-brick Romanesque-style Science Building (opened in 1887). Not only is it the host building for the geography department, it also has the distinction of being the first buildings in the country to be constructed of all masonry and metal materials (wood was used only in window and door frames and for some floors), and may be the only one still extant. How about that! Bye Wisconsin!
IGIS is pleased to announce its second offering of DroneCamp! This three-day intensive workshop will take place at UC San Diego, between June 18th and the 21st, 2018, and will cover everything you need to know about drones for mapping, research, and land management. This intensive bootcamp style workshop will include instruction and hands on training in the following areas:
- Technology - The different types of drone and sensor hardware, costs and applications
- Drone science - Principles of photogrammetry and remote sensing
- Safety and regulations - Learn to fly safely and legally, including tips on getting your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate
- Mission planning - Flight planning tools and principles for specific mission objectives
- Flight operations - Hands-on practice with both manual and programmed flights
- Data processing - Processing drone data into orthomosaics and 3D digital surface models; assessing quality control
- Data analysis - Techniques for analyzing drone data in GIS and remote sensing software
- Visualization - Create 3D models of your data
- Latest trends - Hear about new and upcoming developments in drone technology, data processing, and regulations
The cost of this three-day event will be $500 for UC Employees and $900 for everyone else.
Additional information and registration info can be found at http://igis.ucanr.edu/dronecamp/. Registration requires a short application (no fee), that will inquire about your background and learning goals. Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to submit an application by April 15, 2018 for early priority registration. Be aware, last year's event filled up very quickly.
We hope to see you there!
UC ANR IGIS
Drone Service Coordinator
IGIS is thrilled to welcome Jacob Flanagan to our team. Jacob will be with IGIS through the end of June 2018 as a Drone Technician and Data Analyst.
Jacob comes to IGIS with a broad background in UAV technology, GIS, computer science, and remote sensing. Prior to joining IGIS, Jacob worked with GreenValley Int'l, where he spent several years designing and developing application software for LiDAR data, spatial databases, technical documentation, and user support.
This is not the first time we've had the fortune to work with Jacob. Those of you who have attended some of our drone workshops may remember his demos of an 'octocopter' drone, large enough to carry a heavy LiDAR sensor. He was also a presenter and flight instructor at the 2017 DroneCamp, and has been involved in drone mapping missions at the Hopland REC.
Jacob joins the rest of the IGIS team as our latest FAA certified UAS pilot, and will be involved in a number of research and extension projects. Please say hi to him if you run into him in the ANR building, our next DroneCamp in San Diego, or somewhere in a field looking up at the sky with a drone controller.
Last week at the Hasting Natural Reserve in Monterey County, IGIS joined forces with The Wildlife Society Western Section for a workshop on drone mapping for wildlife biologists. Over three days, 25 participants learned about drone technology, the science behind mapping with drones, regulations at both the federal and state levels, flight operations, data processing and analysis, and 360 drone photography. The workshop was hugely successful.
The workshop once again proved the value of collaboration. The Hastings Natural History Reservation, a UC Berkeley field station under the UC Natural Reserve System, was a superb location for the workshop, and Resident Director Vince Voegeli took good care of us. IGIS team members Sean Hogan, Andy Lyons and Jacob Flanagan, provided the core of the technical material building upon earlier workshops include last year's DroneCamp. Steve Goldman, UAS Coordinator for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) spoke about the use of drones in CDFW including their recently finalized regulatory policies and procedures. Steve Earsom from the US Fish and Wildlife Service recorded a similar presentation for participants. Professor Emeritus David Bird from McGill University educated and entertained the audience with several presentations about UAVs in wildlife research over his long and distinguished career. All of this was put together by TWS Western Section Workshop Coordinator and master planner, Ivan Parr.
We are looking forward to more drone mapping workshops and love the collaborative model that combines institutions, technical backgrounds, and applications. Our next multi-day drone workshop will be another offering of DroneCamp coming this summer. Stay tuned for an announcement in the near future.