Orbimage acquires Space Imaging; New Mexico requires surveyors to disclose insurance; orthorectified Landsat digital data now available from USGS; and White House continues support for Landsat.

GeoEye's next-generation satellite, OrbView-5, is scheduled to launch in early 2007 and will have a ground resolution of 0.41 meters.

Orbimage Acquires Space Imaging

Orbimage of Dulles, Va., one of the major national forces in the commercial high-resolution satellite imagery market, finalized the acquisition of Denver-based Space Imaging on Jan. 12, 2005. The combined company will do business under the brand name GeoEye.

Matthew O'Connell, president and chief executive officer of GeoEye, said, "Our goal two years ago was to win one of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's [NGA] NextView contracts and subsequently purchase Space Imaging." The NextView contracts intend to assure the NGA of availability to high-resolution imagery from future commercial remote sensing satellites. When the NGA announced in September 2004 that Orbimage had indeed won one of the two NextView contracts (with the other going to DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colo.), the stage was set for the acquisition.

According to O'Connell, the acquisition will have a positive effect on products offered to customers. "The new company is bigger and stronger and has additional capacity by owning and operating two 1-meter resolution satellites," he explained. Moreover, he indicated GeoEye is now the world's largest commercial satellite imagery company and has the largest archive of existing high-resolution imagery in the world-some 253 million square kilometers.

One of the biggest impacts GeoEye will have on the surveying, engineering and mapping professions will be realized with the launch of its next-generation satellite, OrbView-5, scheduled for early 2007. This satellite, which is funded in part by the NGA, will have an unprecedented ground resolution of 0.41 meters. O'Connell emphasized this point, saying, "OrbView-5 will be a "˜mapping machine' in orbit that will have the ability to collect approximately 700,000 square kilometers of imagery per day, which is roughly the size of Texas. That resolution will allow the user to locate manhole covers on city streets."

Fifty percent of the capacity of the new satellite will be reserved for the NGA. The remaining capacity will be available for commercial purposes. All imagery collected by either NGA or commercial customers will be made available for sale in the commercial archive. This will place GeoEye as a driving force in moving the industry forward with advanced technology and innovative products. O'Connell noted his company's need to be proactive-not reactive-in the way the world is imaged because up-to-date, accurate maps are critical for U.S. defense and for managing natural disasters.

Special reporting by Mark Meade, PE, PLS, CP

New Mexico Requires Surveyors to Disclose Insurance

New provisions in the New Mexico Engineering and Surveying Practice Act require mandatory disclosure of a surveyor's professional liability insurance. This requirement, which went into effect July 1, 2005, is for all contracts and agreements for surveying services and must be in writing. The following language has been added as a new paragraph to section 61-23-27.9, under the heading "Surveying - Practice of Surveying":
D. For all contracts and agreements for professional surveying services, the surveying services contractor shall provide a written statement indicating:

(1) the minimum terms and conditions of professional liability insurance coverage including limits and exception; or

(2) the absence of professional liability insurance coverage

The disclosure requirement is the result of a legislative and lobbying compromise; originally, members of New Mexico's Senate and House of Representatives considered legislation that would require surveyors to hold errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. The New Mexico Professional Surveyors (NMPS) opposed this initiative and aided in the drafting of the compromise to require disclosure.

Disclosure of professional liability insurance is intended to offer the general public better information when securing professional surveying services. The New Mexico Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Surveyors has developed criteria for the administration and application of the disclosure requirement, which are available at www.state.nm.us/pepsboard/surveyAdvisory.html. Only those who offer services to the public are required to disclose their coverage.

Special reporting by Glen Thurow, PLS

Orthorectified Landsat Digital Data Now Available From USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began offering selected Landsat 4, 5 and 7 satellite data at no cost in late December 2005. Orthorectified Landsat data is available for free download from the Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) at http://glovis.usgs.gov and Earth Explorer at http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov.

The Landsat Orthorectified data collection is a global set of high-quality, relatively cloud-free orthorectified Landsat 4-5 Thematic Mapper and Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) imagery. Selected and generated through NASA's Commercial Remote Sensing Program, the data sets provide two full sets of global coverage over an approximate 10-year interval (circa 1990 and circa 2000) and total nearly 16,000 scenes. Other data sets will be added as they become available, including the Landsat Orthorectified Multispectral Scanner (MSS) data set (circa 1975). Users can download an entire scene, containing all bands, metadata, jpeg and header information in a single zipped format file.

White House Continues Support for Landsat

On Dec. 23, 2005, the White House Office of Science and Technology issued a policy memo to continue the LandSat program. The Landsat program is the longest running program providing vital images of the Earth's surface from space. The first Landsat satellite was launched in 1972 and since then Landsat satellites have been providing a constant stream of moderate-resolution images.

The White House memo details actions that will be taken to ensure the short-term continuity of the Landsat program. Specifically, the memo states:

  • NASA will acquire a single Landsat data continuity mission in the form of a free-flyer spacecraft to collect the required land surface data and deliver its data to the Department of the Interior (DOI)/United States Geological Survey (USGS).
  • DOI, through the USGS, will be responsible for the operations of the Landsat data continuity mission and for the collection, archiving, processing and distribution of the land surface data to U.S. government and other users.
The Management Association of Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) were instrumental in persuading the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to commit to a free flyer in an effort to minimize the current widening gap in Landsat data.

In addition, the memo also establishes long-term government support to "transition the Landsat program from a series of independently planned missions to a sustained operational program funded and managed by a U.S. government operational agency or agencies, international consortium and/or commercial partnership." The full text of the memo is available at http://ldcm.usgs.gov/documents/OSTP_Landsat_memo_12-23-2005.pdf.

Managing Editor Kimberly Jensen compiles "Newsline." If you have a timely, newsworthy item, contact her at 248/244-6465 or E-mail jensenk@bnpmedia.com. Also visit www.pobonline.com for regular news updates.