Vexcel Corporation, a global market leader in synthetic aperture radar products and services, has been commissioned by the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center's (ERDC) Topographic Engineering Center (TEC) to develop software tools to automatically merge Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) of varying sources, scales, and resolution. The Army ERDC-TEC-whose mission involves terrain visualization used to support military, civil, and environmental engineering applications-requires best-quality models fused from data generated by differing sources that include traditional photogrammetry, interferometric synthetic aperture radar (IFSAR), and Light Detection and Range (LIDAR) radar. Merging elevation data from these different sources will allow the Army ERDC-TEC to create large-area DEMs with local areas of interest at high resolutions while using lower resolution and more widely available terrain data for the surrounding areas. The resulting complete, multi-resolution DEMs can be regarded as "optimal" DEMs for specific applications.
Vexcel was selected for this project based on its significant experience in merging IFSAR and stereo SAR digital elevation models, and for its history in DoD and NASA funded projects, in particular the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), credited for the most complete digital topographic map of the world ever produced.
"Existing elevation data for a given area tends to differ with regard to method of collection, characteristics, and file format," explained Dr. Carolyn Johnston, Senior Project Manager for Vexcel's Advanced Radar Technologies group. "One DEM may be generally superior to another in relative measures but contain systematic offsets and phenomenology that make it less desirable in places. Fusing elevation data from differing sources into a common elevation model provides a "best-of" radar DEM with improved accuracy for the given region of interest."
Vexcel will design and develop the tools as modules that will be integrated with commercial and military GIS software packages already in use by the Army ERDC-TEC. Vexcel anticipates that this integration capability will provide distinct opportunities for commercialization, especially in the next few years when more capable, next generation international spaceborne SAR systems are launched.
Source: Vexcel Corporation