Museum of Surveying Relocates and Gets New Name; United States and Canada Form Mapping Partnership; ASPRS Announces 2007 GeoEye Award Winners; and GeoEye Establishes Philanthropic Organization.

The improved National Museum of Surveying will be located in downtown Springfield, Ill., the area of the Prairie State that was once home to Abraham Lincoln, an historical surveyor.

Museum of Surveying Relocates and Gets New Name

On March 1, 2007, plans were finalized to establish the National Museum of Surveying (NMoS), a new museum piggybacking on the foundation of the Lansing, Mich.-based Museum of Surveying.

The improved National Museum of Surveying will be located in downtown Springfield, Ill., the area of the Prairie State that was once home to Abraham Lincoln, an historical surveyor. The new museum follows in the footsteps of the pioneering organization, the Museum of Surveying, the first museum in the United States dedicated to commemorating and preserving the history of surveying and mapping.

According to Museum of Surveying President Dave Ingram, the idea to create an improved surveying museum in Springfield first arose in the summer of 2006 after several years of trying to improve the Museum of Surveying’s building or finding a suitable alternate site in Michigan. In early 2007, museum board members began a capital campaign to relocate the museum by contacting potential donors, state surveying societies and the city of Springfield for funding. According to Ingram, early indications demonstrate that national support for the new museum is widespread and enthusiastic. Over the last few months, the NMoS Foundation, a private tax-exempt foundation created to manage the museum, has established itself in Illinois and applied for nonprofit status.

To honor Lincoln’s background as a deputy surveyor for the state of Illinois, a bronze life-size statue of him as a surveyor stands in front of the new museum. The museum building is located a block from Lincoln’s new presidential library and directly across the street from the Old State Capitol where Lincoln gave his famous “House Divided” speech, warning the nation that it could not survive as a half-slave and half-free nation.

The city of Springfield-the “Land of Lincoln”-provides an historical backdrop for the museum and allows a large audience to learn about the history of the surveying profession. By placing the museum in the heart of downtown Springfield, Ingram says the NMoS will be able to bring the story of American surveyors to an estimated ten thousand visitors in its first year and even more in succeeding years. NMoS board members look forward to the museum’s grand opening in the spring of 2008.

A depiction of ecosystem performance in 2004 of coniferous boreal forests in the Yukon River Basin, Alaska. Similar research will be conducted on a more comprehensive scale under the new USGS-NRCan partnership in land cover mapping.

United States and Canada Form Mapping Partnership

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) announced a high-tech satellite mapping partnership to generate data on the effects of climate change on permafrost, track wildland fires and assess changes in forest cover and landscape.

According to Barbara Ryan, USGS associate director for geography, the mapping initiative is an outgrowth of ongoing discussions and border negotiations between Canada and the United States. The official partnership between USGS and NRCan involves a dynamic land cover monitoring system for all of North America and the development of permafrost modeling applications.

In February, collaborative efforts were underway to focus on the mapping of the Yukon River Basin. A key application in joint permafrost mapping is also planned to assess the impacts of climate change on human settlements, physical infrastructure and ecosystems in both the United States and Canada.

Future projects are planned for longer-term collaboration related to the development of radar applications. Using infrared, radar relief and other remote sensing techniques, the mapping partnership will produce integrated information that will help natural resource managers to better assess the health of landscapes, cross border wildland fire risks, changes in biodiversity and the effects of climate change on permafrost.

The mapping partnership between the USGS and NRCan stresses the importance of land cover data. Ryan correlates the work of the USGS-led national land cover program, the National Land Cover Dataset, to the U.S. Census Bureau. “Just like the Census Bureau counts people and examines population distribution over ten-year periods, the USGS conducts a periodic ‘census’ of the nation’s land resources,” Ryan says. Land cover information is essential for a wide variety of issues, including land use planning, the assessment of ecosystem status and health, the study of spatial patterns of biodiversity and the development of land management policy. “The ultimate goal of the international partnership with Canada is a dynamic land cover change monitoring system that can be updated on [an] annual basis,” Ryan says. “We’d like this to be a critical, sustainable information source for users of land cover change products across the continent.”

ASPRS Announces 2007 GeoEye Award Winners

In March, the ASPRS Foundation announced the 2007 GeoEye Award recipients. The purpose of the GeoEye award is to support remote sensing education and stimulate the development of applications of high-resolution digital satellite remote sensing data through the granting of GeoEye imagery for applied research by undergraduate or graduate students. Any student at the undergraduate or graduate level enrolled full-time at an accredited United States or Canadian college or university with image processing facilities appropriate for conducting the proposed work may submit a proposal for this award. Applicants must also be ASPRS members.

The award is funded by GeoEye (the new brand following the acquisition of Space Imaging by ORBIMAGE early last year) and is presented by the ASPRS Foundation at each ASPRS Annual Conference. The award consists of a grant of satellite imagery data up to 100 square kilometers (a potential value of more than $5,000), and a certificate inscribed with the recipient’s name and his or her institution.

This year’s recipients will be presented with their awards this month at the ASPRS 2007 Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. The 2007 award winners are: Govinda Basnet, Department of Anthropology at the University of Georgia in Athens; Tim De Chant, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at the University of California Berkeley; and James Kellner, Department of Plant Biology at the University of Georgia.

For more information on the awards,

IKONOS satellite image of Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska. Image courtesy of GeoEye.

GeoEye Establishes Philanthropic Organization

In March, Dulles, Va.-based GeoEye unveiled the GeoEye Foundation, a philanthropic organization that donates satellite imagery to advance educational, scientific and environmental research. The foundation’s goal is to advance excellence in university teaching of geospatial information technologies (GIS), aid humanitarian and environmental research studies, including climate change, and to foster the innovation and growth of the next-generation of geospatial technology professionals.

Mark Brender, GeoEye’s vice president for communications and marketing and executive director for the GeoEye Foundation, leads the effort. “The idea of the foundation came from some of our employees who indicated that it’s an ideal use of some of the satellite imagery in our 278 million square kilometer IKONOS archive,” Brender says. “It brings life to pixels that may not be used otherwise. It’s just the right thing to do as our industry matures.”

The foundation is managed by an outside advisory board of directors and an employee advisory committee, comprised of 11 key GeoEye employees who have a passion for education and know the importance of broadening the knowledge base of students, faculty and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the use of imagery. Applicants for satellite imagery are generally students and faculty at select educational institutions or analysts or researchers at non-governmental organizations. Each potential applicant for an imagery donation is required to submit an application outlining his or her research goals and objectives. Requests for the archived imagery are then reviewed by the advisory committee. “With such divergent views, we look for a consensus of thought regarding the relevancy and uniqueness of the study/project,” Brender says. “We look for faculty endorsement, willingness to write an article or paper on the research, visibility our imagery may receive and agreement to ‘no commercial use of the imagery’; candidates also receive more attention if the research is centered on climate change impact rather than on more well-exploited traditional uses of imagery.”

The GeoEye Foundation has begun providing satellite imagery to support students and faculty studying urban sprawl in Mexico and land-use planning for Jerusalem. A scientist from the University of Texas at San Antonio is also benefiting from the imagery in his research on melting ice ponds in Antarctica to better understand the impact of climate change. According to Brender, the foundation plans to establish a direct relationship with some of the top schools in the country with strong GIS programs. “This effort is not just limited to universities… we [will] consider imagery awards to NGOs and other research organizations on a case by case basis. But awards will consist of archive imagery only, covering a precise location on the Earth consisting of a few hundred square kilometers at the most.”