2013 CAN Awards

PROJECT: Stereo-Derived Topography for the Last Frontier and the Final Frontier

PI: Robert Herrick, Professor, UAF

Having accurate topography of sufficient resolution is critical to a wide variety of geological analyses and civic planning activities. Currently available topographic data for Alaska and the planets of the solar system are insufficient for many studies. When viewed from off-nadir with a camera or a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), topographic slopes are distorted in a predictable manner through an effect known as parallax. With images taken from two different viewing angles, a stereo pair, differences in parallax can be translated into a topographic model of the imaged surface. There is abundant stereo imagery available for Alaska and the planets of the solar system in locales without good topographic coverage. Also, in Alaska the topography of certain geologically important areas can change significantly on short time scales, and currently there is very little time series topography for Alaska. While the principles of deriving topography from stereo data are easy to understand, effective and efficient processing of the data requires sophisticated software, and experience at using that software, that currently does not exist in the University of Alaska system. Here we propose to develop the infrastructure and expertise to process stereo data to topography using SOCET SET, a versatile software package that can process all of the terrestrial and planetary data sets of interest. The expertise that we develop will be applied to several research projects in Alaska and across the solar system that are under a general theme of studying geologic flow structures. In Alaska, we will focus on glaciers and volcanic flows; on other solar system bodies we will focus on volcanic flows and impact melts.

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