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Old 11-11-2007, 17:13   #1
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Satellite Imagery

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Originally Posted by GreyRaven View Post
I find that it decidedly sucks that with all the satellites up there monitoring God and the world, for which we (both Americans and Europeans) are paying untold sums of taxpayer money, and close observation is taking place 24/7/365, in order to ostensibly monitor terrorists/drug runners/illegal immigrants/citizens, that it is not possible to use these tools to also find Mr. Yarara on his 53 ft. Swan, whose life and ship are in danger.

I believe that to use these resources only for “restricted purposes” and to ignore other lifesaving applications, is a misuse of those abilities and should be considered criminal negligence.

It’s not as if a human had to check several hundred thousand square kilometers of open sea. That’s what the computers do and are there for. “Contessa 7” could have been easily located long ago and help could have been deployed.

The fact that it hasn’t happened is disgusting.

Main thing is, they can read your license plates and track your movements.

The whole thing is Orwellian.

And inhumane.
Umm, satellites look down - to read your license plates they would have to be mounted to the roof of your car and the letters would need to be half a metre (1 1/2 ft) tall. And the sky needs to be clear. I don't know of any computer sophisticated enough to do what you suggest - perhaps you or your fellow conspiracy theorists have proof otherwise?? An awful lot of our (taxpayers) money goes to SARSAT, Coast Guards, RCCs, etc. These are staffed by dedicated professionals, and they have the latest and best technology available to provide search and rescue services, free to all mariners in distress. The governments are not all bad.

Kevin
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:02   #2
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Satellite Imagery

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Umm, satellites look down - to read your license plates they would have to be mounted to the roof of your car and the letters would need to be half a metre (1 1/2 ft) tall. And the sky needs to be clear. I don't know of any computer sophisticated enough to do what you suggest - perhaps you or your fellow conspiracy theorists have proof otherwise?? An awful lot of our (taxpayers) money goes to SARSAT, Coast Guards, RCCs, etc. These are staffed by dedicated professionals, and they have the latest and best technology available to provide search and rescue services, free to all mariners in distress. The governments are not all bad.

Kevin
Yes, satellites do look down. However, satellites are also quite capable of taking off-nadir images at angles between 10 and 35 degrees. Today, top notch commercial earth imaging satellites are capable of 0.41-meter panchromatic resolution. You can imagine what order of higher resolution military satellites are capable. It’s like GPS - for commercial use it’s accurate between 3 and 5 meters. For military use it’s accurate down to a few centimetres. So, no, the characters would not have to be 1 ½ feet tall at all.

Further, the sky does not have to be clear. Imaging satellites are capable of also collecting high resolution pan-sharpened multispectral imagery, meaning near-infrared, infrared and even radar data. Based on whether the images are panchromatic or multispectral, they can collect between 700.000 and 350.000 square kilometres of imagery every day. That’s a lot of data.

In order to process it, despite it sounding like a conspiracy theory to you, computers are used. Imagine that! And they do not process the image as such. They process the digital data directly, employing highly developed algorithms to find what they’re looking for.

Digital image processing is the only practical technology forSo you may have never heard of it but digital signal processing (DSP) was first developed in the 60’s and has been used increasingly ever since. You can forget the pictures of military types gathered around large tables loaded with photographs, pipes clenched between their teeth, peering at them intently through large magnifying glasses.

Anyway, photographing licence plates is so retro anyway. Anyone wanting to keep track of you (or me) can do so by using that cute little mobile phone we have a way of taking with us wherever we go, either legally or illegally. It all just depends on the definition of “legally”. Some places, it doesn’t have much meaning any more.

In the final analysis, there is hardly a spot on earth which is not carefully monitored daily by satellite, either for commercial or military purposes. What I was trying to express in my short rant last night was the frustration of knowing that the resources and the capability are there in place but not being put fully to use, in order to also save lives.

If you have Google Earth, crank it up and go to 2.28’33.27 N – 101.50’44.77 E, adjust your viewing height to approximately 1000 ft. and tell me what you see. Even taking Google’s crummy resolution into account, you’ll recognize that its more than enough to locate a 53 foot yacht.

You can be sure that vessel is on somebody’s digital image, dutifully taken during today’s flyby.
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Old 12-11-2007, 10:47   #3
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Michael,

All very interesting, informative and, possibly, even technically close to the mark.

However, what your rant fails to do is to differentiate between what is technically POSSIBLE and what is practically DOABLE.

If you need any persuasion on this, consider the case of the missing sailor earlier this year who sailed out the Golden Gate Bridge for an afternoon and....was never heard from again.

He was a very experienced sailor on a very seaworthy vessel, sailing in good conditions. More to the point, he was a super-techie, a god-like figure in the Silicon Valley tech businesses. His friends and family pulled out all the stops to locate him. They used satellite imagery. So did the USG. They searched for weeks. Nothin'. How could this be? No indication of his track (which, in theory, could have been ascertained from historical imagery analysis). No debris field. No abandoned vessel. No lifejackets or cushions. No EPIRB alert. No nothin'.

Is your point that the government surely knows something, and is just hiding it from us? If so, I think your next stop after you djalan-djalan from Malaysia maybe ought to be Roswell, NM :-)

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Old 12-11-2007, 11:33   #4
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And don't forget about everything that went into searching for Steve Fossett earlier this year. Even with the aid of technology its still a big world.


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Michael,

All very interesting, informative and, possibly, even technically close to the mark.

However, what your rant fails to do is to differentiate between what is technically POSSIBLE and what is practically DOABLE.

If you need any persuasion on this, consider the case of the missing sailor earlier this year who sailed out the Golden Gate Bridge for an afternoon and....was never heard from again.

He was a very experienced sailor on a very seaworthy vessel, sailing in good conditions. More to the point, he was a super-techie, a god-like figure in the Silicon Valley tech businesses. His friends and family pulled out all the stops to locate him. They used satellite imagery. So did the USG. They searched for weeks. Nothin'. How could this be? No indication of his track (which, in theory, could have been ascertained from historical imagery analysis). No debris field. No abandoned vessel. No lifejackets or cushions. No EPIRB alert. No nothin'.

Is your point that the government surely knows something, and is just hiding it from us? If so, I think your next stop after you djalan-djalan from Malaysia maybe ought to be Roswell, NM :-)

Bill
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Old 12-11-2007, 12:22   #5
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I'd be willing to bet that all of you can make your points without lambasting each other personally. Lets try that, shall we?
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Old 12-11-2007, 12:26   #6
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And don't forget about everything that went into searching for Steve Fossett earlier this year. Even with the aid of technology its still a big world.

And I bet he's still on the surface of this planet as opposed to unfortunate sailors who might not be.
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Old 12-11-2007, 12:49   #7
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Michael,

Have you actually read any of those Wikipedia sections? Here's a piece:
"Image processing and Image analysis tend to focus on 2D images, how to transform one image to another, e.g., by pixel-wise operations such as contrast enhancement, local operations such as edge extraction or noise removal, or geometrical transformations such as rotating the image. This characterization implies that image processing/analysis neither require assumptions nor produce interpretations about the image content.
Computer vision tends to focus on the 3D scene projected onto one or several images, e.g., how to reconstruct structure or other information about the 3D scene from one or several images. Computer vision often relies on more or less complex assumptions about the scene depicted in an image."

You should check out this one: Machine vision - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The pertinent bit - "Machine vision and computer vision systems are capable of processing images consistently, but computer-based image processing systems are typically designed to perform single, repetitive tasks, and despite significant improvements in the field, no machine vision or computer vision system can yet match some capabilities of human vision in terms of image comprehension, tolerance to lighting variations and image degradation, parts' variability etc."

0.4 metre resolution is pretty close to 1 1/2 ft and don't believe the military have anything better - commercial $s are just as good as military $s to the manufacturers. Even if a satellite got imagery of the boat, it's highly unlikely a computer could tell it from any of the other boats in the Pacific. If the military had the capability you suggest, they would have found Bin Laden, Bigfoot and Elvis.
As for GPS, the only difference is the military has access to a second frequency, allowing a more accurate calculation of atmospheric refraction (and also a correction to a dither, if they ever put one in). The nominal accuracy of 'civilian' GPS is 100m and 'military' is 16m. WAAS is more accurate than either, and Differential systems can theoretically reduce the error in PPS systems to less than 1 metre but still more than a few cm.
Feel free to take off your tin-foil hat.

Kevin
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Old 12-11-2007, 13:13   #8
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Satellite Imagery

I have move the above posts to this thread! They were off the main thread topic (Missing Sailboat).
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Old 12-11-2007, 14:05   #9
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Guys, apparently none of you were online ten(?) years ago when a racing boat (Coyote? was it?) was lost mid-Atlantic and the well-known skipper (bad day for memory, I don't recall his name at the moment either) had enough friends and family so that even his Senator was asking the DoD to use satellite imaging to look for basically a 40-50' long sailboat someplace in the middle of the Atlantic.

There was a lot of commentary and a lot of statements, basically the issue is that even when we KNOW satellite capabilities and tasking, the DoD is not going to make any use of any satellite that could in any way compromise the military mission of that satellite--or reveal any of its capabilities. That's their line and for at least a decade now they have stuck to it, pretty much the same way that the USN will still refuse to comment on whether any nuclear munitions are aboard any particular ship when it enters any particular port.

Also of interest to some of you, might be that commercial imagery--which is available down to the 1-2 meter range, damn close to declassified military quality if not the equal of it--is available. A shi*load of this was made available free (AFAIK) and to the public via the Amazon Mechanical Turk program, so that literally ANYONE could scan hi-resolution current satellite images to help in the search for Steve Fossett--who is still missing and unaccounted for now. A month? or so after he failed to return from a routine flight in a single-engine plane.

So, even if you use satellites--there's a lot to look for. And the DoD is most definitely not going to do anything that might confirm or refute any of their capabilities. From their perspective it is "Protect 330 million citizens by abandoning *one* of them."

Wanna change it? OK, start by writing to your Congresscritter, ask them not to laugh to hard and shine you on when you say you want a USCG budget or a military liaison to use DoD satellites for civilian SAR tasks. It could happen--I just wouldn't place bets on it.
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Old 12-11-2007, 14:15   #10
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So far, what I’ve tried to do is point out what is technically possible. I’m also assuming that Contessa 7 is still afloat and upright and as one poster put it “…maybe he is down below sewing up his torn mainsail and waiting for better weather to jury rig his steering and go home”.

I’ve described several satellite related capabilities which would get the missing yacht into one of several data streams, either commercial or military. I am assuming that this has happened several times since October 18th and today, based on the time which has passed and the number of satellites carrying out imaging reconnaissance over the Pacific.

The point I am making concerns the apparent paradox that the yacht has presumably been recorded in one or several data streams but that all the remaining dots remain unconnected. Which brings us to what is doable.

What needs to be done is have that raw data processed. To do that you need to have access to the data and you also need the required software and/or algorithms to find the specific “signal” in the data stream which corresponds to a yacht or whatever else is being looked for. To my knowledge, neither of these resources are readily available to the USCG.

Assuming the yacht has been noticed in the data stream by another entity, there is no certainty that any connection has been made between that “blip” and the missing yacht. Why should it, if the data is being evaluated in order to find submarines or determine water temperatures.

So, no, I am not saying that the government “knows” something and is holding it back. I’m saying that due to the formidable resources which are already in place the data is probably there, the tools to process it successfully exist but the necessary evaluation just isn’t taking place. The resources on board are not being utilized as they could be.

Which is sort of sad for the people who are worrying about the guy “down below sewing up his torn mainsail and waiting for better weather to jury rig his steering and go home”.
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Old 12-11-2007, 14:33   #11
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So far, what I’ve tried to do is point out what is technically possible...
I’ve described several satellite related capabilities which would get the missing yacht into one of several data streams, either commercial or military...
The point I am making concerns the apparent paradox that the yacht has presumably been recorded in one or several data streams but that all the remaining dots remain unconnected. Which brings us to what is doable.
What needs to be done is have that raw data processed...
I’m saying that due to the formidable resources which are already in place the data is probably there, the tools to process it successfully exist but the necessary evaluation just isn’t taking place. The resources on board are not being utilized as they could be...
Or we cruisers could take a little responsibility for our own safety, and utilize the existing capabilities of the SARSAT “EPIRB” units, readily available, and effective.

Under the COSPAS- SARSAT international satellite aided tracking system, polar orbiting satellites are able to detect distress signals from radio beacons onboard aircraft, boats and from hand-held personal locator beacons.
Aviators call their radio distress beacons ELTs (Emergency Locator Transmitters, mounted permanently in the aircraft) or PLBs (Personal Locator Beacons, which are portable and carried on the person).
Mariners call their beacons EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) and the main difference being that an EPIRB, unlike an ELT, is designed to float upright in water with its antenna pointing upright.
COSPAS-SARSAT Rescues as of: November 02, 2007
Number of Persons Rescued (To Date) in the United States: 313
-Rescues at sea: 232 people rescued in 65 incidents
- Aviation rescues: 28 people rescued in 18 incidents
-PLB rescues: 53 people rescued in 25 incidents
Worldwide – Over 22,058 People Rescued (since 1982)
United States – 5,709 People Rescued (since 1982)
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Old 12-11-2007, 15:24   #12
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Yep, the Gov knows.

Is your point that the government surely knows something, and is just hiding it from us? If so, I think your next stop after you djalan-djalan from Malaysia maybe ought to be Roswell, NM :-)

Bill[/QUOTE]

The government won't release the information because then you would know that they know you know about what you shouldn't know about.
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Old 12-11-2007, 15:47   #13
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Jeez. Sounds like a Rumsfeld quote, "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

I guess that the satellites know, but we don't :-)

For those enamored with what used to be one of the government's finest and most secret programs, you might wanna take a look at the latest and greatest debacle in the dumbing down of America and its government:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/wa...ite.html#step1

Take it from someone who's been there: it wasn't always this way.

B.
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Old 12-11-2007, 15:57   #14
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I have no doubt that technology exists to pick up the image of a yacht at sea.....IF YOU KNOW WHERE IT IS.

Think of it like trying to find a child, lost in the mountains, with satellite imagry. If you know what slope of which mountain to look on, the child may be able to be found if he is in plain view and there are no other images to search though to find him.

The ocean is incomprehensively large and a yacht is so small. There are probably a billion breaking seas on any ocean, at any one time that are larger than a sailboat. Even if they had the vessels last known position and the speed of drift, you could be talking hundreds of square miles of ocean to look at. The task of looking through all of that ocean is not even comprehendable.

It's not the observation of the vessel that is hard, it is locating it. If you are looking through a high powered lens from space, you would only be able to view a very small area at once, in order to have an image the size of a yacht, show up.
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Old 12-11-2007, 16:09   #15
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Jeez. Sounds like a Rumsfeld quote, "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know."

I guess that the satellites know, but we don't :-)

For those enamored with what used to be one of the government's finest and most secret programs, you might wanna take a look at the latest and greatest debacle in the dumbing down of America and its government:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/wa...ite.html#step1

Take it from someone who's been there: it wasn't always this way.

B.
Lets not turn this into a political agenda!!!!!!!
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