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Title
Special UNISPACE III volume
Author
Marsteller, Deborah

International Archives of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Vol. XXXII Part 7C2. UNISPACE III, Vienna, 1999
135
UNIS PACE III- IS PRS/NASA Seminar on
“Environment and Remote Sensing for Sustainable Development”
9:00 am -12:00 pm, 23 July 1999, VIC Room A
Vienna, Austria
UN-PSA should replace “Space”, with “Information” and
form a UN-PIA. Space, and remote sensing, become a means
to a far more critical end - to solve economic, national
sustainability, environmental, and security problems. As the
information age advances, the UN needs to sponsor, promote,
and develop a global program in Information Science and
Technology oriented toward ensuring access to information,
not data, and training people to apply the information to
solving local and regional problems.
The above events and the parallel development and
operations of national remote sensing programs set the stage
for the entrance of commercial systems (e.g. IKONOS.
Figure 1). To help form a basis of meaningful dialog on this
changing “Landscape” it is necessary to define the
“Landscape”, how it is changing, and what direction the
Earth information (a.k.a. remote sensing) industry is moving.
Such understanding better frames the reasons commercial
endeavors have emerged in the nineties.
REMOTE SENSING “SPATIAL SPECTRUM”
DEFINITION
Before proceeding, let’s define a critical parameter of remote
sensing systems- resolution-in the context of many different
systems. In order to help “standardize” our thinking and
discussion about the diverse remote sensing systems, it would
be useful to adopt a standard reference system similar to the
electromagnetic spectrum used by the ITU on a global basis.
Table I is a notional offering of one such possible “spatial -
spectrum” that will be used in the paper. The table,
fashioned after the frequency spectrum, is nominally
partitioned in “octaves”, factors of two (2), and grouped in
2X bands as shown The banding occurs naturally as systems
designed for servicing one band is sub-optimized for another
band. Single “camera” systems cannot be cost effectively
optimized across a 10X resolution range.
Historically, reconnaissance and aerial imaging systems have
operated in Bands 1, 2 & 3. Civil observation/remote sensing
systems operate in Bands 5 and 6. Atmospheric and
meteorological systems operate in the Band 7 regime. With
the entrance of SPOT and IRS Band 4 is now being
operationally filled. The new' commercial systems plan to
operate in Band 3. The commercial systems are. almost by
definition, designed to operate at the human scale where the
highest economic value is found. Band 3, nominally 1 meter,
represents the spatial “content” domain where human feature
detection, identification, and change analysis more optimally
occurs.
Table I: SPATIAL RESOLUTION “SPECTRUM”
BAND
RESOLUTION
IN METERS
DESIGNATOR
DEFINITION
SOURCE/USES
1
.1 - .5
EHR
Extremely High
Resolution
Reconnaissance,
Aerial
2
.5 - 1.0
VHR
Very High
Resolution
Reconnaissance,
Aerial
3
1.0 - 4.0
HR
High Resolution
Reconnaissance,
Commercial
4
4-12
MR
Medium Resolution
Commercial
Civil
5
12-50
LR
Low Resolution
Civil
6
50 - 250
VLR
Very Low Resolution
Civil
7
>250
ELR
Extremely Low
Resolution
Civil, Meteorological
COMMERCIAL REMOTE SENSINGAND SPACE
IMAGING - WHERE DID IT COME FROM AND
WHY NOW?
The business development of Space Imaging started in 1989
- 1990. The down turn in the defense spending post Cold
War Aerospace raised business diversification questions as to
how to leverage available technology into economically
attractive commercial markets. At the same time, activities
and events around the world made clearer the need for better
Earth information sources and products.
Digital imaging space technology was operationally
developed for diversification, however, both the political
environment and economic viability were unclear as noted in