Geospatial Redux: Envisat End of Mission Declared, GIS for Geocaching, Tunneling the Earth

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With communication broken with the earth monitoring satellite since April 8, 2012, the European Space Agency (ESA) has declared an end of mission for Envisat.  The ten year old satellite has delivered over a thousand terabytes of data, doubling its expected lifespan of five years.  The lowering of its orbit back in October of 2010 had been expected to extend its lifespan by another three years which would have allowed the ESA an overlap between the earth observation data gathering of Envisat with its Sentinel satellite program with a scheduled launch in 2013.

The Esri Education blog has a post entitled “Seven Ideas: GIS for Geocaching with Scouts, Youth, or Anyone” about using leveraging GIS to enhance the geocaching experience.

The  American Bird Conservancy has created a web mapping application to help highlight areas where birds are vulnerable to death from wind turbines:

“This map offers a way to prevent millions of bird deaths from wind power, while at the same time providing ample opportunity for the prudent development of this potentially bird-smart energy source. Careful siting of wind energy remains the single most important factor in reducing bird deaths from wind power, and this map provides a means to do just that,” said Mike Parr, Vice President of ABC.

If you dug a hole in the earth and kept going, where would you emerge on the other side of the earth? answers that question for you using Google Maps.  The site has two maps, the top map shows the location of where you theoretically start digging.  The bottom map shows the antipode (the place on Earth is the point on the Earth’s surface which is diametrically opposite to your starting location).  To use the application, grab the upper map and starting panning.  The “dig” location is always centered in the middle of the screen.

Antipode map

There’s a theory floating around that a 425 year old map provides clues to the lost colony of Roanoke, known as the Lost Colonists.  Explorer John White created the “La Virginea Pars” map of Virginia and North Carolina in the 1580s.  Researchers from the First Colony Foundation and the British Museum in London discovered a patch covering a symbol of a fort at the confluence of Chowan and Roanoke rivers.  The researchers believed the fort symbol hidden under the patch indicates the spot where the Lost Colonists were heading.

It took a couple of months for Apple to come into compliance with OpenStreetMaps requirement for attribution.  Apple began using OpenStreetMap data instead of Google Maps for its iPhoto app back in March but without attributing the source of the data.  Richard Fairhurst, a board member at the non-profit crowdsourcing project commented:

“The OSM Foundation has made informal contact with staff at Apple and, in addition, one of our volunteer mappers who is an iOS developer spoke to people at Apple. We believe it was the latter that precipitated adding the attribution – it’s great to have such an active and engaged community!

Despite all the debate about geographic literacy in this country, it took a seventh-grader to point out the error of a map showing the Byzantine Empire at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  The map showed the size of the Byzantine Empire at its height during the 6th century but left out Spain and part of Africa, something Benjamin Lerman Coady had learned as part of his education.  The teen, when he pointed out the error to the museum, was told to fill out a comment card, which he did.  The input was reviewed and in January of 2012, Helen Evans, the museum’s curator for Byzantine art, contacted Coady to let him know he was right.

Kate Prengaman, a science writing graduate student at the University of Wisconsin, writes about what cartography has taught her about science writing in this essay for Scientific American.

China has launched its own mapping satellite.  The Tianhui 1B satellite was launched on May 6 and is intended for scientific research, land resource surveys and mapping according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

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