Remote Sensing Takes to the Road
TIME NEEDED FOR HIGHWAY construction could be significantly reduced
and at the same time enhance route quality by applying remote sensing.
This could be accomplished with sensors mounted on aircraft or satellites
for observing Earth's surface, providing images to make detailed
maps of selected study areas.
NASA's Stennis Space Center recently applied its comprehensive
commercial remote-sensing capabilities to highway routing plans
for the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). The remotely
sensed images gathered for the MDOT project were used to form a
highly accurate, digital map data base to determine the best route
for a highwaya connecting route between Hernando, Mississippi,
and Collierville, Tennesseethat is still being planned. By
having a synoptic view of a proposed route, planners can determine
what transportation infrastructure, buildings, industrial facilities,
water bodies, farmlands, forests, wetlands and geological features
In October 1997, MDOT supervisors viewed a demonstration at Stennis
of possible transportation applications of remote sensing. After
a meeting with MDOT engineers, a team at Stennis transformed MDOT's
requirements into data sets for integration into a geographic information
system (GIS) prototype to help select the optimal highway route.
The model became an analysis and visualization tool for the 20-mile-by-5-mile
area under consideration. The model contained layers of criteria
that influence route planning: utility corridors, civic structures,
natural deposits, water bodies, flood zones, homes and businesses,
wetlands and farmlands.
Preliminary transportation planning using a computer model reduces
time, but it will not replace people in the field who have to conduct
highly accurate field data. Remote sensing does support field crews.
A project once requiring a year could now take as little as a few
"Transportation projects using this technology will be implemented
more quickly at less cost to the public. Use of remote sensing also
can balance environmental and other considerations that can cause
enormous delays to a project," said Tom Stanley of the Commercial
Remote Sensing Program at Stennis.
For more information, contact Bob Collins at Stennis Space Center.
Or contact Lanee Cooksey at Stennis.
Call: 228/688-1957, Fax: 228/688-1094, E-mail: Lanee.Cooksey@ssc.nasa.gov
Please mention you read about it in Innovation.