Developing New Remote Sensing Research and Applications Using Commercial Imagery:
CU Boulder and DigitalGlobe Inc. (DG) formed a partnership in an effort to advance research innovation. The partnership provides a tremendous opportunity for CU researchers and students to explore high resolution imagery, apply advanced data analytics in the cloud and open new areas of remote sensing research and applications. The partnership enables access to DG’s huge 80-petabyte imagery archive and the powerful image processing available in their GBDX platform. This platform represents a significant advance in remote sensing data processing technologies.
Supporting Industry with Big Earth Data Analytics:
Earth Lab has teamed with DigitalGlobe through an existing partnership agreement with the university and with Dr. Kristy Tiampo in the Earth Science and Observation Center in CU’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) on advanced data analytics research sponsored by Newmont Mining. The pilot R&D project is exploring how deep learning methods can be applied to DigitalGlobe’s multi-band, high resolution imagery to better determine surface mineralization used in mining operation and inform exploration for new finds of gold and silver. DigitalGlobe processed existing imagery collected in the summer of 2016 over the Cripple Creek Deposit in Colorado using its new Geospatial Big Data cloud-based analytics platform. Newmont Mining supplied extensive data from ground samples from this mine used in training the deep learning algorithms. The algorithm and software workflow was developed to take full advantage of the powerful computing capabilities provided by Amazon Web Services. Future work could extend the scalable analytics and computing methods used in this study to significantly larger imagery datasets and greater spatial regions in other areas around the world.
Collaborative Research Agenda in Fire Dynamics and Forest Recovery:
Earth Lab and the US Geological Survey have established an ongoing collaboration to examine post-fire forest regeneration in Colorado. Because Earth Lab is positioned at the interface of data collection and data analytics, while the US Geological Survey has experience evaluating the consequences of forest disturbances and assessing the effectiveness of management strategies designed to address them, this interdisciplinary collaboration serves as a research platform to examine the cross-scale interactions inherent in landscape disturbance dynamics. Broadly, Earth Lab and the USGS conducted field-based data acquisition and aerial drone flights to evaluate the extent to which disturbance history 1) shapes the composition and structure of the landscape, 2) influences its capacity for resistance to state transitions, and 3) promotes resilience post-disturbance. The Cold Springs fire event in Colorado presented a unique opportunity to better understand how the heterogeneity of pre-burn stand structure (i.e., US Forest Service ecological restoration treatments and landscape disturbance legacies) influences fire characteristics, post-fire regeneration, and landscape resilience.
Government and Industry Partnership in Remote Sensing Data Analytics and Computing:
The United States Air Force (USAF), Lockheed Martin, and CU-Boulder are collectively working to design, procure, and install a collaborative R&D development environment to include: 1) remote sensing data analysis and archiving capabilities, 2) shared cloud computing resources (e.g. AWS) for remote access, and 3) computing infrastructure and services for lab development activities. The USAF, Lockheed Martin, and other key industry partners have invested heavily in the capture of relevant datasets via satellite-based remote sensors and in signal processing, data fusion, analytics, and visualization associated with interpreting data for effective decision making. The CU-Boulder Grand Challenge Initiatives fuse strengths in earth, space and social sciences with new technologies and partners to address broad-ranging environmental and natural resource challenges of interest to Industry (topics related to the earth’s surface, atmospheric research, weather and climate studies, and environmental resource management). CU-Boulder provides remote sensing, earth sciences, and analytics expertise that is complementary to USAF and Industry partner capability. For more information on this collaboration and a full list of partners, visit the Tap Lab website.
Supporting Industry in Demonstrating Advanced Sensors Capabilities:
Earth Lab science projects collect field and ground-based data and combine these with remote sensing data from satellites and drones to help address critical research questions in Earth and social sciences. Earth Lab has been collaborating with Ball Aerospace on ways to use these data to help demonstrate advanced sensor capabilities under development by Ball and how data from Ball sensors might help in Earth Lab research. One recent example is the use of data collected by Ball’s advance airborne LiDAR system during its planned flight testing. Earth Lab and Ball were able to coordinate flights with ground collections in areas around CU’s Niwot Ridge forest research plots and burn scars from Colorado’s Cold Springs fire. The LiDAR provides an unprecedented three dimensional view of forest structure over large areas and when combined with field observations can be used to quantify the effects and characteristics of fire and the process of forest regrowth.