2006 July 20

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Land Voyage

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Editor's Introduction

This week I report on one amateur's quest to use satellite imagery to determine the nature of an apparently anomalous feature on a glacier on Mount Ararat, Turkey, and the assistance he has received from the two largest satellite imaging companies. I also invite you to meet me at the upcoming ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, California, August 7-11. Plus, the usual round-up of new items from press releases.


Amateur Image Analysis

Many amateur astronomers scan the sky with home telescopes and, occasionally, one of them makes a significant discovery. Likewise, as satellite imagery becomes increasingly available and has higher resolution, the number of amateur image analysts grows. Some look for patterns and anomalies, while others look for objects that they already believe to exist.

One such amateur image analyst, Porcher Taylor, has been pursuing a self-funded effort to determine whether what he calls an "anomaly" on a glacier on Mount Ararat, in Turkey, is just a natural rock formation or a man-made object. Specifically, he thinks it might be the remnants of Noah's Ark, as described in the Bible's Book of Genesis.

Figure 1: Image taken by GeoEye's IKONOS satellite in February 2003

Personally, I am a firm skeptic and put my trust in science. While I am highly doubtful that Taylor's "anomaly" has human origins, I find his pursuit to be an interesting case study in the uses of geospatial technology by amateurs. There's a direct correlation, Taylor says, between progress on his self-funded satellite archaeology research project and progress in satellite technology.

I also find it very interesting that the two largest satellite imaging companies, Digital Globe and GeoEye, have been supportive of Taylor's project. Clearly, from a PR point of view, it is a win-win situation for them—as long as they don't make an analysis or determination as to what's on the ground!

Read more …

Meet the Editor

I will be at the San Diego Convention Center, August 7 to 11, for the ESRI International User Conference and would like to meet as many of my readers as possible! If you will be there and would like to get together, drop me a line. I will tell you when I will be sitting at the GITC America booth and when we can meet during breaks or in the evening.

News Briefs

Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.


    1. The School of the Built Environment, Singapore Polytechnic, a polytechnic with an enrollment of more than 16,500 students, has renewed its agreement with the BE (Bentley Empowered) Careers Network program. Read more …

    2. The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has selected GeoDecisions, an information technology company specializing in geospatial solutions, to develop Location Wizard—an application that provides geospatial mapping capabilities to many of DNREC's applications, making it possible for several divisions to access and view the locations of each other's business-related data through a single point of access. Read more …

    3. The Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Canada, now deploys an ESRI enterprise ArcGIS platform to better manage its electric distribution, water distribution, and wastewater operations. Read more …

    4. ESRI strategic alliance partner SAP AG has certified the integration of ESRI's ArcGIS 9.1 software with the SAP NetWeaver platform. Read more …

    5. OneGIS has enhanced its service offerings to telecommunications organizations by becoming the first North American value-added reseller of Telcordia Network Engineer to offer certified training for that telecom GIS software package. Read more …

    6. GE Energy has supplied Sabesp - Companhia de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo of Sao Paulo, Brazil with its Smallworld geospatial technology. Read more …


    1. The Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo), founded six months ago, has announced that Mapbender, a portal-based suite of software for geodata management using OGC OWS architectures, has met all of the legal and community requirements to become the first official product supported by the Foundation. Read more …

    2. MWH Soft, a provider of environmental and water resources applications software, has released Comprehensive Urban Hydrologic Modeling Handbook for Engineers and Planners— a resource for anyone involved in the design, operation, protection, and management of urban infrastructure systems. Read more …

    3. The U.S. Patent Office has issued a patent to LandNet Corp. for a suite of highly differentiated online mapping functions. Read more …

    4. The latest release of TopSURV field controller and Topcon Tools software from Topcon Positioning Systems (TPS) offers a multitude of new features and expanded functions to expedite data collection and integration operations. Read more …


    1. Educators and administrators of all types will come together at the sixth annual ESRI Education User Conference (EdUC) August 5-8 in San Diego, California, to network and explore the benefits of GIS technology in education. Read more …

    2. The exhibit floor for GeoWeb 2006 is about 90 percent full and almost all of the 13 workshops are more than 70 percent full. Online registration for the event closed at noon MDT Wednesday, July 19. Read more …

    3. Applications are now being accepted for a course entitled "Practical Remote Sensing Methods for Conservation Biologists." Read more …


    1. Joan N. Gardner has joined the board of directors of the James W. Sewall Company. Read more …

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Matteo Luccio, Editor
GIS Monitor

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