This is my favorite time of the year here at xyHt. We bring you not only the regular issue, but our annual Heights supplement, created in conjunction with our friends at MAPPS to address all things aerial.
The history of aerial photography is relatively brief. But in that time, technological advances have covered a lot of ground, so to speak. In roughly a century we have gone from flying over enemy territory and snapping pictures, which would then have to be processed, developed, and analyzed, to real-time images and data collections capabilities.
Ten years ago, in the issue of Heights (which was then called simply Aerial Mapping) the introductory letter talked about how unmanned aerial systems will have a “more profound impact” on aerial mapping than any technology of the last 20 years.
That letter, written by then-executive director of MAPPS John Palatiello, turned out to be quite prophetic. But the emphasis of aerial mapping, as we point out in our Heights cover story, remains on manned missions. Writer Gavin Schrock tackles the interesting topic of manned vs. unmanned geospatial missions. Now, two more than a decade into the unmanned age, it would seem that with ever-more-capable unmanned aerial vehicles that the manned mission would be going the way of the dinosaur. But Schrock found otherwise. If UAVs can be efficient tackling smaller jobs, it’s still the manned missions that do the heavy lifting of larger jobs.
Toward that end, writer Juan Plaza takes a look at using aircraft to map the ocean surface for an oil company that hopes to one day use unmanned aircraft to deliver supplies to its rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. And writer Linda Duffy looks at the emerging market of wind energy and who manned missions are helping produce clean energy.
We want to thank MAPPS president Robert Hanson for writing the opening article for Heights and taking a look at where MAPPS is headed and the political headwinds it faces.
With all that content about things up above, the April issue of xyHt is more grounded with articles about surveyors whose boots on the ground labor is improving life in many aspects. For example, when natural disaster strikes, it is often surveyors who are among the first on the scene to initiate the rebuilding process.
But those boots on the ground often need an eye in the sky—actually an eye in space. So, we take a look at how GNSS constellations are communicating with surveyors’ rovers and how the technology of that process is evolving and improving.
Essentially, in these two issues we’re on the ground, in the air, and out in space. That’s a lot of ground and air space we’ve covered. I hope you enjoy both issues.