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Elevation modelling from satellite visible and infrared (VIR) data

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Since the early emergence of Earth observation satellites, researchers have investigated different methods of extracting three-dimensional information using satellite data. Apart from a few early stereo images by hand-held photographs acquired during the Gemini and Apollo missions, the first experiments to extract three-dimensional data using stereo viewing from space began with the Earth Terrain Camera flown onboard SkyLab in 1973/74. Since this time, various analogue or digital sensors in the visible spectrum have flown to provide researchers and geoscientists with spatial data to extract and interpret three-dimensional information of the Earth's surface. Although clinometry techniques can be applied with the optical sensor images, stereo viewing of images was and still is the most common method used by the mapping, photogrammetry and remote sensing communities for elevation modelling. The paper will review clinometry and stereoscopy and their applicability to the different satellite sensors (space photographs and scanners). Their performances to extract absolute or relative elevation from various research and commercial organizations are addressed. The respective advantages, difficulties and constraints of the sensors are discussed, as well as the methods and the technologies used for extracting elevation data in an operational context.

Document Type: Review Article


Affiliations: Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, 588 Boot Street, Ottawa, Canada K1A 0Y7

Publication date: April 20, 2001

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