November 15, 2011

boundary cognition from satellite images

Satellites are swapping around the Earth since 1957 - the launch of Sputnik. Already having a couple of thousands, the number is fast growing nowadays.

Just during the last week reading my rss, I got to know that China has launched Yaogan XII, Vietnam is buying Japanese satellites, Turkish  recently launched satellite RASAT is already transmitting images, Russia is about to launch 4 more GLONASS satellites to existing 28 ones, and so on an so on.. Europe, yes Europe as well, finally launched 2 GALILEO satellites last month. Future, talking about the number of satellites, is amazing..
I am glad we still can see the sky over them.

Well, satellites are indeed the most important data resource for geographers as well as for everyone, as nearly everyone today is a geographer. Maybe without thinking, maybe consciously, but the life is not imaginable now without GPS. The ability to look from above, to observe ourselves, our land is amazing. Due to that we build a completely different image in our heads, as our cognition abilities has changed.

Despite the amount of images we get, the raw data, sometimes it is funny how less we are able to take from them. Satellites can be build for different purposes, collecting some specific information, some specific territory, with atmosphere noise - lots of restrictions, limitations from technical side while talking about getting raw data. But the idea I have in my mind is about other things, constraints on reading those images we get and formalizing them. I would say - this is the fuzziest thing.

How do we create those crisp bounded maps of territories having those blurry satellite images? Have you ever thought how much uncertainty there in process of image interpretation despite all the techniques created. Everything we get from image has very fuzzy boundaries, which we make crisp ones. Our cognition abilities are still sticked to such formalization and as well, for computers it's way more comfortable. We are used to see crisp boundaries on a map.

Even though we understand logically, for example, the wavy ocean has no clear edge, boundary, but we still would like to see the clear boundary on even a very detailed map. Why? Why we need sometimes to know that boundary?

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