Friday, October 24, 2008

How to Access and Download LPS 9.3 and other ERDAS Software

I've received a lot of questions from people asking about how they can access and download the new LPS 9.3 release. Since we've changed the methodology for software access, I've outlined the new procedure below. This example covers the download process for LPS 9.3, but it essentially the same for all the products on our new web-site.

The first step is to go to the Product page of the software you would like to download. For LPS, this is here. Note that all the products can be accessed by the product page, and are organized into general functions: Author, Manage, Connect, and Deliver. Clicking on a cube (e.g. Author) at the top will filter the product list.
Next, click the downloads tab on the right-hand side of the tab list.

After clicking the download tab, the content will change and you'll see a download link. After clicking on this you will be directed to log in. Please note that this log in only pertains to software download access, and you will have to register with some basic details.

After registering, an email is sent with your login details. After you login, you can go to the product download tab again and click on the download link once again. For LPS you will see a message saying that due to the large file size (~600MB for LPS) a temporary ftp login has been created for you and that you will be emailed the ftp location and login details. The email is sent immediately and you should receive it within seconds of hitting the download link.

Next, log on the the FTP site and download the software. Without a license LPS will work in "demo mode" for 30 days, but you can also contact your local representative for an evaluation license (or any questions). You may also contact your local representative for the software package on DVD.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fidicial Marks: An Explanation

I tend to get a lot of visitors finding their way to this blog by searching for information on fiducial marks. So, why not ouline what they are and why they are important?

In the context of aerial photography, fiducial marks are small registration marks located along the outside of an aerial photograph. There are typically four or eight numbered marks, which look like this (note: this is number 1):

So what are they for? During the camera calibration process, the positions of the fiducial marks are measured precisely. The principal point of the image can be derived from the intersection of the fiducial marks. See here for an interesting paper on the development of camera calibration methods. The results of the camera calibration are usually stored and reported in a document (typically a USGS camera calibration report in the USA), and some organizations include their camera calibration reports on their web-sites: here is an example.

Fidicial marks are also important in the early stages of the photogrammetric processing, when the system establishes the relationship between "film" coordinate space and "pixel" coordinate space (solving for interior orientation). This process involves either physically or automatically measuring the fiducial marks.

Finally, it is important to note that fidicial marks are only used in film cameras. You'll only see them on scanned aerial photography. Digital cameras use different camera calibration techniques, and the USGS has a research lab on digital camera calibration research.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sensor Spotlight: Leica Geosystems ADS80 Airborne Digital Sensor

I’ve touched on ADS40 sensor technology in a few different posts, but the focus of today is the new ADS80 sensor. The ADS80 is a pushbroom airborne sensor that was formally announced and highlighted at the ISPRS conference this past summer in Beijing.

See here for an interesting discussion on the transition to from analogue to digital processing as well as pushbroom sensors. The new sensor represents a solid advancement, and arguably delivers the best quality imagery of any of the commercial large-format airborne sensors.

But what is the difference between the ADS80 and the previous version, the ADS40? This post will cover the differences and explore some of the specific technical improvements.
Firstly, there are several overall design improvements. There is a new design for the data channel with overall data throughput increasing from 65 MB/s to 130MB/s. The fastest cycle time has increased from 800Hz to 1000Hz (this allows for faster flying speeds than previously possible), and there are data compression options for 10 bit, 12 bit, as well as the raw data.

The ADS80 also features a new design for the Control Unit (called CU80). The new Control Unit is smaller and contains an integrated slow for two Mass Memory units. Here what the new CU80 looks like:

The new system also introduces a new solid state Mass Memory unit (MM80). This size is smaller and weights only 2.5 kg, and has a few different options for data storage modes: single volume, joined volume, and in-flight backup. The joined volume of the two MM offers the greatest data throughput as well as the largest storage capacity, which is ideal for large-area collection missions.

For direct georeferencing applications, IPAS comes embedded in the control unit as well. This is critical for image collection missions in remote areas where ground control may not be possible: this is important in applications such as disaster mapping, remote area mapping (e.g. certain pipeline mapping applications) as well as surveillance operations.

Overall, the system weight has been reduced by 26 kg! It also contains new periphery equipment, including a new GPS/GLONASS Antenna.

Lastly, what does the imagery look like? In short, it looks fantastic. Here’s a sample of imagery collected at 5cm GSD over Lucern, Switzerland earlier this year (click on the image for a larger view).
More information, including both a product brochure and data sheet, is available from the Leica Geosystems website. Also note that new a new software package for ground processing, called XPro, will also be released quite soon.

Special thanks to Ruediger Wagner, ADS Product Manager at Leica Geosystems, for providing details on the new sensor.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ERDAS and Oracle: Building Geospatial Business Systems

Last Wednesday I had the chance to travel up to Brussels to sit in on our ERDAS & Oracle technology seminar: "Building Geospatial Business Systems". It was a full-house and the day was full of both ERDAS and Oracle product information, as well as customer presentations of business solutions they have created by synthesizing technology from both companies.

Some of the focus areas included:
- A introduction and discussion on ERDAS APOLLO, which we just announced last week.
- The ERDAS commitment to OGC standards, including the importance and priority of interoperability.
- Oracle Spatial in Europe, presented by EMEA Oracle Spatial Product Manager Mike Turnill.
- A discussion on the ERDAS product roadmap and direction.

Here are a few snaps from my camera phone. Overall it was a great event: full turnout, great discussions, and a high level of interaction and information exchange.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Satellite Archeology with Quickbird

Check out this article from MSNBC for an interesting application of remote sensing. The article highlights the fact that remote sensing can be an excellent tool for locating historical sites that cannot by detected by ground. The arrows in the image below show the outlines of the pyramids.

If you're interested in this topic, here is an excellent paper by Dr. Armin Gruen from ETH on "New Technologies for Efficient Large Site Modeling."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Now Released: LPS 9.3

We are pleased to announce the release of LPS 9.3 today! This is a major milestone for ERDAS, as we're launching new releases across all product lines today, which is a first. Additionally, we've completely updated the website at Each product can be downloaded from the site from the various product sections via the "Downloads" tab. For LPS 9.3, go here and click on the Downloads tab. Note that you'll need to register to access the download. You can also get a new 9.3 license from the link on the front page.

The main theme of the LPS 9.3 release is 3D feature extraction, with the introduction of "PRO600 Fundamentals for PowerMap XM": PRO600 Fundamentals is a streamlined stereo feature extraction software. Basically we've made PRO600's PROCART module (3D feature extraction) available for Bentley PowerMap XM, which is a GIS-oriented application for map production in a 2D or 3D environment. PRO600 Fundamentals also includes LPS Stereo.

I wrote about a couple of the new benefits in previous posts, but I've also included the entire list of improvements below.

In LPS Core, the following improvements have been added:

  • Export to KML: This new LPS 9.3 feature exports an LPS block file or group of block files to the KML (keyhole markup language) file format. This feature allows for the export of both image footprints as well as point measurements associated with the block file.
  • Improved Automatic Point Measurement (APM) point correlation quality in cases with less than 50% overlap, variable flying height, and in sidelap areas.
  • Added support for NITF NCDRD format in the orbital pushbroom QuickBird/WorldView model.
  • The Triangulation Point Review user interface has been extended to support Satellite Sensor Models.
  • New Support for Image Chipping for NCDRD Sensor Model.
  • Registration free .NET and COM: New Registry Free LPS allows users to install different versions of LPS on the same machine.
  • Synchronized units of measure for the Average Flying Height (Frame Camera) and Average Elevation (Orbital Pushbroom) defined in the Block Property Setup with the units reported in the block file.
  • The Average Elevation, Minimum Elevation and Maximum Elevation units in RPC Model projects are now displayed in the project vertical units in the Frame Editor.
  • Synchronized units of measure for GCPs and residuals in the Refinement Report.
  • Enhanced Importer for ISAT projects with multiple flight lines.
  • Support for EMSEN Hand Wheels.
  • Added the LHN95 Geoid model (Switzerland).
  • Added Latvian Coordinate System (LKS-92) support, which includes the Latvian Gravimetric Geoid (LGG98).

LPS Automatic Terrain Extraction (ATE)

  • DEM Accuracy: Added an option to enter a tolerance in the vertical units of the terrain source to set the accuracy range for the predicted surface value of the area. The Min and Max Z Search Range will change with respect to the accuracy value entered. Providing a reliable tolerance will result better matching quality.
  • Added support for all currently supported sensors in Adaptive ATE (not just frame cameras and ADS sensors).
  • Reliability has been improved with better memory handling.

LPS Terrain Editor

  • Drive to Control Point: In 9.3 a new panel in Terrain Editor enables the display of GCPs and tie points associated with the currently loaded block file. An additional new dialog called “Control Point Display Settings” allows users to filter points in the cell array and choose the rendering settings for the Ground Control Points panel. The user can load some or all of the image pairs that a GCP is projected into. This new tool lets users check the quality of the DTM with respect to GCP, check points and the tie points. This tool can also be used for visual inspection of triangulation results after a bundle block adjustment.
  • Post Editor hotkeys: allow a user to quickly move through points by using keyboard arrow keys and adjusting the Z value for selected points in gridded terrain files.
  • Enhanced jpeg image display.

ERDAS MosaicPro

  • Save to Script Functionality: With the release of LPS 9.2, users were able to batch script the entire MosaicPro process and then execute the script from an MSDOS prompt. In 9.3 it is possible to generate the batch script automatically from the MosaicPro user interface. The script generated from MosaicPro may also be used as a template which can be easily modified. This new feature builds a script file from a combination of the currently open MosaicPro project and/or from previously saved settings from image dodging, color balancing, seam polygons, and exclusion areas. The MosaicPro process can then be run in time-set, batch mode from the MSDOS prompt.
  • Improved performance for seam polygon generation with "most nadir", "geometry", and "weighted" options.
  • Various reliability improvements.


  • Extend Features to Ground: this new feature uses a 3D Polygon Shapefile and extends the segments of each polygon (as faces) to the ground to form solid features (e.g. Buildings).


  • Ability in PRODTM for the user to specify the extent within which to load terrain data. This allows very large terrain datasets to be used in PRODTM, in a piece-wise manner.


  • For triangulation projects using AD40 data, multiple ADS40 flown at the same time are now supported. This required the change of some file formats. This new approach leads to shorter project creation times.
  • CAP-A Release 8.10: New Handling of Orientation Data for ADS40. This new data handling has two primary advantages:
o The amount of disk space to store the project is drastically reduced.
o The startup time of CAP-A is much faster as there is no need to read the *.ori files and find the corresponding orientation for each point.

Defense Productivity Module (DPM)

  • Users in classified environments can now process NGA MC&G imagery in LPS photogrammetric workflows if the DPM is installed. This support includes access to AMSD ground and imagery points.
  • A new Image Slicer has been created to facilitate cutting of the original imagery into smaller segments for extraction. After slicing, an RPC model may be generated to provide support in ERDAS products without a local DPM license. If an NITF module is licensed, the RPC segments may be exported to NITF with RPC00B tags for interoperability with a wide variety of software packages.