Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Conference Announcement: 1st ICA Symposium “True-3D in Cartography”

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Please note that the deadline for abstract submission for the 1st International ICA/DGfK Symposium “True-3D in Cartography” which will be held at Dreikönigskirche Conference Centre, Dresden, 24-28  August 2009, has been extended until 31 March 2009.

Below you find the list of envisaged topics:

  • Anaglyph Displays
  • Animated True 3D
  • CAVEs
  • Chromo-Stereoscopy
  • CNC Relief-Milling
  • Earth Relief Globes
  • E-Paper and True 3D
  • Hand-Made Geomodels
  • Analogue Holography
  • Digital Holography
  • Hyperglobes
  • Lenticular Foil Technology
  • Polarisation Technology
  • Relief-Molding Technology
  • Solid State Geomodels
  • Shutter Glass Technology
  • Stereo-Lithography
  • Virtual Environments
  • 3D Printing etc.

Please, find more information at the conference web site: http://kartographie.geo.tu-dresden.de/true3Dincartography09/

For any other specific information concerning the conference you can contact steffi.sharma@tu-dresden.de.
Feel free to forward this message to all colleagues who might be interested in this ICA meeting.

Looking forward to seeing you in Dresden in August 2009.

Manfred Buchroithner

Manfred Buchroithner

Also check out these two blog posts to get a feel for the type of content and people who attend this type of conference:

Meet Toni Mair — Terrain Artist Extraordinaire

2008 Mountain Cartography Confernce in Switzerland Approaches

See SRTM Satelite at Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center!!! (Kelso)

Friday, February 27th, 2009

I went out to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum annex at Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia last weekend and was pleasantly surprised to see one of the SRTM payloads hanging off the ceiling. The Shuttle Radar Telemetry Mapping program helped produce a significantly more accurate and detailed world-wide digital elevation model (DEM, DTM) in the early part of this decade and was a great leap forward for shaded relief generation. If you make the trip, you’ll find the SRTM between 22 and 23 on the map below in the “space shuttle” hanger. The map does a good job of indicating what altitude different aircraft can be found in the hanger.

Here’s a photo:

Cannister/Mast, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Payload
(republished from the Smithsonian)
In 2000, the Shuttle Endeavor carried the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) payload into orbit. Shuttle astronauts used the payload, manufactured by the AEC-Able Engineering Co., to map in high detail and three dimensions more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface–the most complete and accurate rendering of the planet’s land masses ever attempted. The Museum possesses two components–the mast canister (this artifact) and the outboard support structure with its antennas–crucial to that mission.

To acquire this data, the SRTM used a novel hardware system that featured a main antenna located in the Shuttle payload bay, a folding mast (in the mast canister) that extended 60 meters from the Shuttle, and then another antenna system that was positioned at the end of the mast (the outboard structure). It was this dual antenna system–the largest rigid structure then flown in space–that produced, through interferometry (a technique for combining the information obtained from the two, separate antennas), a three-dimensional mapping of the Earth.

The mission was a joint undertaking of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Department of Defense’s National Imagery and Mapping Agency. The military will use the highest resolution data from SRTM for terrain navigation for planes and cruise missiles. A lower resolution data set will be made available to civilian scientists and other users.

NASA transferred these artifacts to the Museum in 2003.

Transferred from NASA
Manufacturer: AEC-Able Engineering Co.
Country of Origin: United States of America
Dimensions:
Overall: 292.1 length x 136cm diameter, 984.3kg weight (9ft 7in. x 4ft 5 9/16in., 2170lb.)
Materials:
Aluminum, steel, titanium, plastic, copper
Inventory Number: A20040261000

General layout of the museum:

Collision Aftermath (Wash Post)

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Last week’s collision of two satellites added to a growing list of “junk” polluting the envelope around our planet with the flotsam and jetsam of our satellite-dependent civilization. The rubbish is increasingly a hazard for human spaceflight and has put important equipment such as the Hubble Space Telescope and communications satellites at risk of being struck by an object moving at hypervelocity. This graphic from Patterson Clark shows where the collision occurred in relation to important platforms.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Originally published: 13 February 2009.
Graphic by Patterson Clark.

Two satellites smashed together Tuesday, creating a spreading cloud of space junk that slightly increases the chance that other spacecraft could be damaged by the debris.

Related article from Wired: Lost in Space: 8 Weird Pieces of Space Junk


SOURCES: NASA; Union of Concerned Scientists; staff reports

Related article: Satellite Collision Adds to ‘Space Junk’ Problem

By Joel Achenbach

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 14, 2009; Page A03

Satellite 33442 orbits Earth every 91 minutes, circling at an inclination of 56.1 degrees to the equator and gradually slowing down, destined to fall into the atmosphere in late spring or summer and burn up. Aficionados of satellites know that 33442 is a tool bag. A spacewalking astronaut let it slip last year, adding one more tiny, artificial moon to the junk in low Earth orbit.

The military has a running catalog of more than 19,000 pieces of orbital debris. This week, the census of space schmutz suddenly jumped by 600 — the initial estimate of the number of fragments from Tuesday’s stunning collision of two satellites high above Siberia.

Space is now polluted with the flotsam and jetsam of a satellite-dependent civilization. The rubbish is increasingly a hazard for human spaceflight and has put important equipment such as the Hubble Space Telescope and communications satellites at risk of being struck by an object moving at hypervelocity.

(more…)

Mapping Recent Human Evolution (Wash Post)

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

[Editor’s note: On Charles Darwin’s 200 year birthday and nearly 150 years after “On the Origin of Species” was published, scientists are beginning to unravel our own evolution thru the study of genetic markers spread across different geographies. This graphic explores topics include Malaria, Mysterious Hair, Light Skin Outside Africa, Food and Climate, and Milk Mutations.]

Republished from The Washington Post.
Originally published 12 February 2009.
Graphic by Patterson Clark and Mary Kate Cannistra. (Updated 11 March 2009)

About 10 percent of human genes have continued to evolve since modern human beings emerged in Africa 200,000 years ago. Traits for disease resistance and environmental adaptation are undergoing natural selection.

RELATED ARTICLE
Going Where Darwin Feared to Tread
Scientists Begin to Decode the History of Human Evolution

By David Brown

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 12, 2009; Page A01

In biology’s most famous book, “On the Origin of Species,” Charles Darwin steered clear of applying his revolutionary theory of evolution to the species of greatest interest to his readers — their own.

He couldn’t avoid it forever, of course. He eventually wrote another tome nearly as famous, “The Descent of Man.” But he knew in 1859, when “Species” was published, that to jump right into a description of how human beings had tussled with the environment and one another over eons, changing their appearance, capabilities and behavior in the process, would be hard for people to accept. Better to stick with birds and barnacles.

Darwin was born 200 years ago today. “On the Origin of Species” will be 150 years old in a few months. There’s no such reluctance now.

The search for signs of natural selection in human beings has just begun. It will ultimately be as revelatory as Newton’s description of the mathematics of motion 322 years ago, or the unlocking of the atom’s secrets that began in the late 1800s.

The inundation of data since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, and the capacity to analyze it at the finest level of detail — the individual DNA nucleotides that make up the molecule of heredity — are giving us a look at humanity’s autobiography in a way that was once unimaginable.

In small, discrete changes in our genes that have accumulated over time, we are seeing evolution’s tracery, as durable as it is delicate. It is slowly revealing how climate, geography, disease, culture and chance sculpted Homo sapiens into the unique and diverse species it is today.

Biologists are discovering that the size of our limbs and brains, the enzymes in our spit and stomachs, the color of our skin, the contour of our hair, and the armament of our immune systems are each to some degree the products of evolutionary adaptation. They are the hard-earned, but unintended, bequests of our ancestors’ struggle to survive.

This, of course, is no surprise. Darwin knew it was so — and he’d never heard of a gene.

Continued reading at Washington Post . . .

RUMOR: Google Earth 5 on Monday (Google Earth Blog)

Friday, January 30th, 2009

[Editor’s note: New features are coming to an application near you. Thanks Laris!]

Republished from Google Earth Blog.
Original publish date: January 26, 2009.

Big Google Earth Announcement with Al Gore and More

The tech world was abuzz this weekend with rumors about a big upcoming event concerning Google Earth. WebProNews and AppScout were the first to report on Friday. Google has sent out an invitation to the press, including Google Earth Blog, for a “Special announcement about Google Earth” on February 2nd in San Francisco. And this event looks like it could be the biggest announcement since Google Earth was released! Speakers include: former Vice President Al Gore, CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, VP of Google Marissa Mayer, and Director of Google Geo John Hanke. Wow!

There are no specifics on the announcement mentioned in the invitation. Just some comments about how Google Earth has reached hundreds of millions of people around the world. The last time Google had this many dignitaries to make an announcement for Google Earth was in June of 2006 when they announced the upcoming release of Google Earth 4. Eric Schmidt and the two co-founders of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) were there for the announcement made by John Hanke at that event. Google Earth 4 introduced photorealistic textures to 3D models, GE for the Mac and Linux, multi-lingual support, and a huge global imagery update covering many countries for the first time.

Another clue for this announcement was some other speakers for the announcement: Sylvia Earle – Explorer-in-Residence for National Geographic Society; Terry Garcia – EVP for National Geographic Society, and Greg Farrington, Executive Director for California Academy of Sciences. The last one isn’t surprising because the invitation says the announcement will be held at the California Academy of Sciences.

The big clue is Sylvia Earle. As pointed out by everyone, Sylvia Earle is a world renowned oceanographer. So, of course, the immediate conclusion is that Google Ocean is finally about to be introduced. Rumors have been flying about Google Ocean for quite a while.

So, clearly Google Earth is going to get some new Ocean-related data. Google just added new detailed ocean floor imagery last week. And, it’s a known fact that several of the parties involved with that also have worked on 3D bathymetry. Google Earth to date has not had many layers which provide data about the ocean. And the ocean terrain has always been flat (2D) in Google Earth. More ocean data is an area I’ve been looking forward to with great anticipation. Especially since this year my wife and I are departing to spend the next five years circumnavigating the oceans by sailboat. Having Google Earth help us explore the oceans will be handy! Google Earth has needed more information about the 75% of the Earth most of us ignore.

I don’t think this announcement will be confined to just Google Ocean though. When Google makes an announcement like this, they always try to push the envelope on multiple fronts. And, with Al Gore headlining the event, I’m sure we’re going to get some data about the environment. I’m expecting lots of new features and data to write about in February. It’s going to be exciting! I just wish I could attend the event myself – but, unfortunately we’ve got plans for next week which keep me from going. But, have no fear, I’ll still be reporting on this major event!

Race To The Moon with Richard Furno, Part 2 (Kelso)

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Follow along with Richard’s first hand narration of how historic events shaped the map, the cutting edge science involved in assembling the photographic base material, and the many explanatory notes included on the final design. The wall map is a piece of art, please enjoy :)

Please join me in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Race to the Moon! Map co-author Richard Furno has allowed me to turn his keynote presentation into a post on my blog illustrating the trials and tribulations of creating this fabulous wall map for the National Geographic Society’s magazine.

This is part 2. Return to Part 1. View zoomable map at National Geographic.

Orbitor 5 Recap

Orbiters 1 through 4 had covered much of the Far Side (shown in green) but much was still missing. Orbiter 5 devoted time to photographing the rest of the unknown part of the Far Side, and as a result, nearly all of the remaining area was taken. After the mission’s success, NASA announced it had all the photos that would cover the Moon. I called NASA to see if their Far Side map was finished, since we would use it for our relief artist so he could render the relief map.

1967: NASA’S Moon Map

But, in fact, NASA had produced only a partial map of the Far Side and had no intention to finish a complete map of the Moon before our scheduled publication. What’s more, I was told that the one partial map they HAD prepared was put together very quickly and they could guarantee that the positional control of features was poor.

(Above) This is the 1976 edition of the map of that 1967 map which was probably greatly improved. It covered from 50 degrees south to 50 degrees north only. Eventually they would finish the polar maps to complete it but that didn’t happen until 1970, more than a year after we published the Moon map. This meant we would have to create our own positional control (selenodetic control) of the Moon’s Far Side features.

Selenodetic Control

Dave is adjusting the globe, I’m moving the camera box and Vic is moving the light.

So we had to come up with another answer. Actually, it was natural for me to think of a scheme to solve the selenodetic control problem. I had learned and done technical perspective drafting for my architect father and I knew picture planes, station points, vanishing points, 2 and 3-point perspective, etc. inside out. As many know, rectification of photos is an exercise in perspective. Unfortunately, I had little time to do the control and we had no rectification equipment. The photos had to be quickly prepared for Tibor to use as he was rapidly finishing his relief of the Near Side.

We needed a large globe in order to reproduce the Orbiter / Moon configurations. It needed a latitude longitude grid preferably without other obscuring information. Well, there just happened to be a one-meter globe in old Hubbard Hall. On the globe, drawn in black ink by hand, was a 5° grid and the shorelines of the earth. With that in hand, we needed a platform to mount it and a slidable camera. Dave and I came in hammers and saws and literally built this contraption, sometimes making up the design as we went

The globe was mounted on a pair of rolling pins. A plumb bob hung from overhead that pointed to a center line drawn the length of a platform and which aligned with the globe’s center. A camera was mounted on a box so its focal point was half a meter above the platform and directly over a  camera swivel. It could then be pointed in different directions while keeping its position directly above the platform’s center line. The platform was long enough in scale so all pictures would be within the range of all the Orbiter photos.

The setup made it possible to roll the globe into any position. We had a hinged measuring stick in front of the globe, with a half meter tick mark so we could align three key points, 1) a designated latitude longitude point (nadir point), 2) the center of the globe and 3) the camera focal point.

Precision

Dave Cook uses proportional dividers to mark the correct latitude and longitude for the camera’s Nadir point. The point is then set on the plumb bob string.

To take a picture of the globe, we followed these steps:

  1. Place the latitude longitude nadir point at the half meter point (by measuring stick) and in line with the tangential plumb bob.
  2. Move the camera to the scaled distance from the plumb bob (putting it directly “above” the nadir point)
  3. Mark the latitude longitude aiming point on the globe (we use a dark X on a piece of masking tape)
  4. Swivel the camera to aim at the Orbiter’s aiming point

The camera recorded a large film plate for accuracy (8 x 6 inches I think) and so the aiming point was clearly visible in the back of the camera. Vic Boswell did a miraculous job of lighting so that the negatives would show the grid lines all the way around the globe. He took about 5 or 6 exposures to ensure a decent one. Vic and I yakked constantly about “foreign cars” back in the day when they were still exotic. He had restored a 1948 MG TC which he drove around on sunny days.

Tibor’s Relief


Tibor is shown working on Tsiolkovsky crater on the Far Side hemisphere.

True rectification means taking distorted photos and removing the distortion. In our case, I would take the photographed grid, draft it onto the Orbiter photo and give it Tibor. He had to rectify the 5° gridded portion of photo in is head by visually subdividing the distorted photo square and mentally transferring the terrain onto a corresponding Lambert Azimuthal square.

Some photos were quite relatively perfect but many were severely foreshortened. While we took these pictures, Tibor was busy drawing the relief for the Near Side of the Moon. I needed to start giving him source material so it would be ready when he started work on the Far Side. Tibor drafted on some sort of paper. Other plates for the map were produced on cronoflex.

Selenodetic Control II

Same photo with Tsiolkovsky crater and holding the clear gridded overlay.

After getting the developed negatives, I had to calculate the correct size for the overlay positive, a more difficult task than I expected. The Orbiter photos were pieced together in strips, often slightly off register. Trying to size by the arc radius could be a tricky affair, but that and a couple of known coordinates made it relatively straightforward.

In the photo below, the moon’s limb is in the particular Orbiter frame and could serve as a way of sizing the corresponding picture of our globe. Yet, with the strips slightly off, it was never that easy. Frames showing no edge of the moon meant aligning by known coordinate points was the only way. I had to order each negative in several different sizes and would inevitably find the one that lined up with two or more known coordinate points on the photo. And when known points were only those by extension across the far side, it meant errors could start to add up.

With the correct, registered positive in hand, I pierced through the overlay at grid intersections into the Orbiter photo. (Notice the spots on the overlay. There was a lightly inked shoreline drawn on the one-meter globe and it appeared on all photos along with the grid.)

Transfered Grid

I used “ships curves” to connect the points. The gut- killer was that there was nothing I could use to check my work. I had to work across the entire Far Side hoping everything would meet up correctly. Fortunately it did.

(more…)

Race To The Moon with Richard Furno, Part 1 (Kelso)

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Follow along with Richard’s first hand narration of how historic events shaped the map, the cutting edge science involved in assembling the photographic base material, and the many explanatory notes included on the final design. The wall map is a piece of art, please enjoy :)

Please join me in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Race to the Moon! Map co-author Richard Furno has allowed me to turn his keynote presentation into a post on my blog illustrating the trials and tribulations of creating this fabulous wall map for the National Geographic Society’s magazine.

This is part 1. Skip to part 2. View zoomable map at National Geographic.

My friend and cartography colleague Richard Furno retired from The Washington Post as of January 1st, 2009. He had a long and productive career first at National Geographic Maps starting in 1963 and afterwards for the newspaper making daily, deadline driven maps for publication in the next day’s newspaper from 1978 to 2008. He was a victim of a changing media landscape and dreery economic times. Read more about Richard Furno.

Richard has been a great mentor to me and we officially honored him last week in the NewsArt department. While he was at National Geographic, Richard worked on The Moon Map and I’d like to share it’s story with everyone around the globe. Because of it’s length, this blog post will be in 2 parts.

NOTE: You may also be interested in my photo essay on Toni Mair-Terrain Artist Extraordinaire.

The remainder of this post is taken directly from Dick’s Keynote presentation. Any references to “I” are in his first person, not mine. Photo and illustrations either (c) National Geographic or variety of  unnamed sources.

While I worked at the National Geographic, no map produced there was so closely tied to events occurring on the country’s and world’s political stage. With each of many developments — a new satellite, a capsule crash, an important space photo — our enthusiasm for or anticipation of actual publication of the Moon map was affected.

The principal author of the National Geographic’s Moon map was Dave Cook, not myself. The history below relates my involvement. Dave was virtually the sole designer. He was also the main researcher and writer of all the material on the map. He established contact with all the phenomenal people who took part in reviewing and editing the final map, many of whom were involved in NASA’s push to the Moon.

After the Moon map was finished, Dave went on to produce the Geographic’s Mars map showing the newly discovered topography as photographed by the spacecraft of the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

When I finished this presentation, I sent it to Dave asking for his edits and urged that he make abundant additions of his own. He said it was “great” but didn’t take the time to add details of his own. I wish he had. This story is far from complete without his part.

Dave and I have been best of friends from 1963 to today and we continue to love astronomy and all things “space-programish”.

1959: Luna 3

In 1959, the Russians sent a spacecraft called Luna 3 into space that looped around the moon and took the first pictures of the… Far Side of the Moon.

There were many Russian space mission that jolted the citizens, and politicians, of the United States from Sputnik in 1957 well into the 1960′s. The Soviets seemed to be able to do anything in space that they chose. These were truly spectacular events.

At the time, the Soviets did not reveal the results of their space missions unless the Kremlin chose to do so. Much of what happened during their space effort wasn’t learned until after 1990. Their secrecy simply enhanced the U.S. drive to beat the Russians to the Moon.

Luna 3’s Far Side Photo

But the photos Luna 3 took were extremely disappointing (above). The right hand two-thirds of the photo is the Far Side of the Moon. The Russians made detailed maps out of this and a few other comparable photos, but they were simply attempts to apply a mass of Russian names to any and all possible features that they could discern. Eventually, only two features here are somewhat clear and their names have stuck. At bottom right is a dark crater with a bright central peak. They named it Tsiolkovsky. The dark patch toward the top was named the Sea of Moscow.

1959: Mercury Program Announced

America’s rollout of its first Mercury space capsule to the launch pad was literally an afterthought. When the US had its first test launch of a Mercury capsule, NASA hadn’t thought of a way to move it to the launch pad. Someone volunteered their flat bed truck. To prevent bumps on the road from being transferred to the capsule, a mattress was placed on the truck to act as a cushion (it’s just noticeable in the picture sandwiched between the capsule platform and the flat bed). Compare this jerry-rigged contraption with…

(Preview) Dec. 16, 1969: Apollo 13 Rollout

Ten years later in 1969 rocket technology had advanced (above). But let’s get back to our story…

1961: Alan Shepard Rockets into Space (Barely)

“Why don’t you light this candle?!!” Alan Shepard on the pad, May 5, 1961

Following the Soviet Union’s dramatic, first manned orbital flight by Yuri Gagarin, the U.S. sent Alan Shepard into space. But Shepard’s flight was suborbital, far less dramatic and a month later than Gagarin’s flight. It lasted 15 minutes, traveled 116 miles high and went 298 miles downrange.

1961: Quest for the Moon

With just those 15 minutes worth of experience in space, President Kennedy made a startling announcement.

May, 1961: President Kennedy Announced We Were Going to Land on the Moon within 8 years!

America was well behind Russia in its space program. The Russians were succeeding in their space missions at an alarming yet. Yet with nothing more that 15 minutes of manned spaceflight experience,  Kennedy made a speech before Congress proposing the moon landing. The speech followed this exploratory memo sent to Vice President Johnson asking if there was any kind of space effort in which the U.S could catch up and beat Russia. President Kennedy wanted to devote “maximum effort” to such a program.

After meeting with NASA administrator Jim Webb and NASA scientists, Johnson came back with their mutually agreed upon idea to go to the Moon. Kennedy then drafted his famous speech. I was still in college but I was getting interested in astronomy and this got me interested in the MOON.

(more…)

Bizarre: Hacking Your Brain (Boston Globe)

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

[Editor’s note: Truly bizarre science graphic about how the human brain processes sensation and the wacky tricks that expose the artifice of our senses. Thanks Laris.]

Republished from the Boston Globe. Sunday 11 Jan. 2009.

How to hallucinate with ping-pong balls and a radio

Text by Johan Lehrer, graphics by Javier Zarracina

DO YOU EVER want to change the way you see the world? Wouldn’t it be fun to hallucinate on your lunch break? Although we typically associate such phenomena with powerful drugs like LSD or mescaline, it’s easy to fling open the doors of perception without them: All it takes is a basic understanding of how the mind works.

The first thing to know is that the mind isn’t a mirror, or even a passive observer of reality. Much of what we think of as being out there actually comes from in here, and is a byproduct of how the brain processes sensation. In recent years scientists have come up with a number of simple tricks that expose the artifice of our senses, so that we end up perceiving what we know isn’t real – tweaking the cortex to produce something uncannily like hallucinations. Perhaps we hear the voice of someone who is no longer alive, or feel as if our nose is suddenly 3 feet long.

Click image for larger view.

Data: ESA Global Land Cover Map Available Online (ESA)

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

ESA’s global land cover map

[Editor’s note: Updated 300 meter resolution global landcover raster provides crisper, better validated snapshot. Available in GeoTIFF format as 1 file or regional (continental-level) compressed files. Thanks Martin!]

Republished from European Space Agency. 
Original post date: 19 December 2008.

View legend. Image previews of the world map (hi-res jpg | tiff). 

ESA’s global land cover map, which is ten times sharper than any previous global satellite map, is now available to the public online from the GlobCover website. It is the highest resolution land cover map that has been completely validated ever released. 

Sixteen experts validated the map using more than 3,000 reference land cover points and showed it had an overall accuracy of 73% weighted by area for its 22 land cover classes. The map’s legend was developed using the United Nation Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Land Cover Classification System (LCCS). 

GlobCover legend
  GlobCover legend

The map was generated using 19 months worth of data from Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument working in Full Resolution Mode to provide a spatial resolution of 300 m. Data were collected between December 2004 and June 2006.A consortium of specialists worked to process the map, including Medias France, Germany’s Brockmann Consult and Belgium’s Université catholique de Louvain. 

Global validation points
Global validation points
 

These data are useful for many applications, including modelling climate change extent and impacts, conserving biodiversity and managing natural resources. The map has been downloaded by more than 4 000 people since October 2008. 

The GlobCover project is part of ESA’s Earth Observation Data User Element (DUE). An international network of partners has worked with ESA on the project, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), FAO, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Environmental Agency (EEA), the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the Global Observations of Forest Cover and Global Observations of Land Dynamics (GOFC-GOLD) Implementation Team Project Office.

The GlobCover LC version 2 is available to public through the following ftp server: 
ftp://uranus.esrin.esa.int/pub/globcover_v2/

On the FTP you will find: 
1) The LandCover V2 in greyscale geotiff 
2) The QL – Quality file geotiff 
3) The legend in xls file 
4) The latest Product Description Manual PDM_I2.1

The GlobCover Land Cover product is the highest resolution (300 meters) Global Land Cover product ever produced and independently validated.  The GlobCover Land Cover product is based on ENVISAT MERIS data at full resolution from December 2004 to June 2006.  The GlobCover Land Cover product has been developed in partnership with EEA, FAO, GOFC-GOLD, IGBP, JRC and UNEP.  The GlobCover Land Cover product is labelled according to the UN Land Cover Classification System.

When using the GlobCover Land Cover product acknowledgment shall be as follow: 

Source data: © ESA / ESA GlobCover Project, led by MEDIAS-France 
Image: © ESA / ESA GlobCover Project, led by MEDIAS-France

Comic: Converting to Metric (XKCD)

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

[Editor's note: Helpful hints on how to go metric if you never had a science class in the US since the 1970s. I don't yet dream in metric but I ain't afraid of it ;) Thanks Jo!] 

Republished from XKCD: A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.

The key to converting to metric is establishing new reference points. When you hear “26° C,” instead of thinking “that’s 79° F” you should think, “That’s warmer than a house but cool for swimming.” Here are some helpful tables of reference points:


View larger size.