Robotic flight controllers have successfully installed NASA’s Cloud Aerosol Transport System (CATS) aboard the International Space Station. It is a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), remote-sensing instrument designed to last from six months to three years. CATS will collect data about clouds, volcanic ash plumes and tiny airborne particles that can help improve our understanding of aerosol and cloud interactions, and improve the accuracy of climate change models. Ground controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in the US used one of the space station’s robotic arms, called the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, to extract the instrument from the capsule.
The NASA-controlled arm then passed the instrument to a second robotic arm called the Japanese Experiment Module Remote Manipulator System, is controlled by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. It installed the instrument on the ISS’ Japanese Experiment Module, making CATS the first NASA-developed payload to fly on the Japanese module. CATS is currently sending health and status data back to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, where the instrument’s data would be analysed. www.business-standard.com/
Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Ariz., has become the first real estate agent who can legally use a drone for real estate photography. Trudeau, the FAA announced, is authorized “to fly a Phantom 2 Vision+ quadcopter to enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos.” The Vision+ is currently the top-of-the-line model in DJI’s lineup of consumer drones.
In addition, the FAA also granted another exception to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, Wash., which will use a fixedwing eBee AG drone from senseFly for monitoring crops. Tierra Antigua and Advanced Aviation Solutions can’t just take their drones for a spin, however. In addition to the pilot, there also has to be an observer around. The pilot also needs to have “an FAA Private Pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and the UAS must remain within line of sight at all times. http://techcrunch.com/
Floods in the Uttarakhand state of India gave the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) 24,000 photographs, uploaded in real time from across the disaster zone by affected people, helping ultimately in directing relief operations. In October last year, the NRSC also used an Android app and crowd-sourced over 3,000 photographs of Cyclone Hudhud, helping the Andhra Pradesh government assess the damage.
Bhuvan, the NRSC’s pet project, is a crowd-sourced medium where the centre asks people to upload photographs, with time and location, on the web. The NRSC then uses remote sensing technology to spot the location and use the resource. The mobile app-based platform assembles all photographs under the weblink http://www.bhuvan. nrsc.gov.in http://indianexpress.com/
Drones to keep an eye on Noida
Noida police in India is all set to use a remote-controlled aerial camera to keep a vigil on traffic and potential law-breakers in the city. They have prepared the proposal too. The drones under consideration are those equipped with infra-red and other systems to enable the cops to ‘see’ even at night. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/
NASA’s SMAP instrument
NASA is set to launch Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite as part of the ESSP (Earth System Science Pathfinder) program. The overall objective of SMAP is to monitor global soil moisture mapping with unprecedented resolution, sensitivity, area coverage, and revisit times of 3days or less. The radiometer provides more accurate soil moisture but a coarse resolution of about 40 kilometers [25 miles] across,” said JPL’s Eni Njoku, a research scientist with SMAP. “With the radar, you can create very high resolution, but it’s less accurate. To get both an accurate and a high-resolution measurement, we process the two signals together. The instrument’s three main parts are a radar, a radiometer and the largest rotating mesh antenna ever deployed in space. NASA Jet Propulsion Lab
Pix4Dmapper V1.3 update features NVIDIA GPU support for faster processing. For initial processing, GPU support will improve processing speed from 10% to 75%, depending on image content and project size. Other feature update includes support for creates a full 3D textured mesh that can be exported in OBJ and PLY format and be used for Fly-through animations.