Costa Rica Hyperspectral and Natural Color Hi-Res

Airborne Scientific was hired by NASA to collect natural color aerial imagery and hyperspectral imagery for multiple applications in Costa Rica, as well as demonstrate the utility of the CessnaCam sensor pod and OSAC digital aerial camera to a variety of interested groups from the Costa Rican government and industry. Applications included law enforcement reconnaissance, urban planning, pipeline routing and monitoring, forest biomass estimation and biodiversity assessment, crop and pasture inventory, and wetlands management. We combined our aerial camera system with the Pika II imaging spectrometer from Resonon into our CessnaCam pod and used a local Cessna supplied from the Costa Rica Police.

Day 1, Installation and Urban Data Collection

The complete CessnaCam pod along with the aerial camera system and imaging spectrometer came to Costa Rica as checked baggage. The next morning the pod, aerial camera, and imaging spectrometer were installed in a few hours. Soon thereafter we loaded a flight plan and spent the same afternoon collecting data over several sites in Costa Rica. The primary site was the major city of San Juan with a focus on 15cm GSD natural color imagery. The Police also requested detailed  imagery of a major city park and surrounding buildings for an upcoming political event for crowd control and event planning.

After landing, RGB imagery was immediately usable and geo-located in minutes with collected GPS data, for review by participating stakeholders and to identify any additional areas to collect in the days following.

Day 2, Continued Remote Sensing Data Collection and Surveillance

Day 2 consisted of two major parts, a morning spent conducting remote sensing collections followed by an afternoon doing reconnaissance with the Police, and finally removing the CessnaCam and sensor equipment for use on an alternate aircraft.

In the morning, several additional sites were flown including several 15cm natural color urban areas for the police, as well as a focus on 1 and 2 meter GSD spectral imaging data combined with 30cm natural color imagery over wetland sites, agricultural sites, and hazard areas below Turrialba Volcano. Some of the targets included tropical wet lowland forests and plantation agriculture hosting banana, pineapple, heart of palm, coffee, and palmito.

The aircraft and crew finished up the morning flight by relocating to a small jungle airfield in eastern Costa Rica to pick up Costa Rican Drug Enforcement Agents. After removing the aircraft door to facilitate collecting oblique imagery, the crew took off to collect both vertical and oblique imagery, vertical video, and imaging spectrometer data at multiple resolutions of suspected illicit marijuana crops in the area. After landing and dropping off DEA personnel, the aircraft was relocated yet again to a paved airfield for fueling and also to remove the CessnaCam and all associated sensor equipment. The aircraft was being co-opted for alternate duties on the eastern side of the country and the Pod and sensor equipment still had missions in central and western Costa Rica in the following days. Removal of the CessnaCam pod and all sensors and cameras took less than 30 minutes, and was loaded into the baggage area of a Cessna 210 for return to San Juan.

Day 3, Image Processing and Training

Poor weather coincided well with a day spent at the CeNat headquarters where Airborne Scientific conducted a training session with CeNat staff. Image processing and geo-location of the high resolution natural color imagery was reviewed with the staff, and mosaics were made of many of the sites collected the two earlier days. Imaging spectrometer data was georegistered and image processing and training began on that data as well.

Day 4, Pod Re-installation, Data Collection, Completion and Packing

The 4th and final day had mediocre weather, including a bit of rain and clouds in the middle of the country, but clear weather to the west. The primary data collection aircraft returned from the eastern side of the country late the previous day, and we spent about 1 hour installing the CessnaCam pod and both the spectrometer and RGB camera into the pod for the days' mission.

The Police wanted to collect natural color imagery at resolutions of 15cm and 30 cm GSD over several airports around the country, including the main Juan Santamaria International Airport and several additional airports in western Costa Rica. Additionally, the remote sensing stakeholders had several target sites for both the spectrometer and RGB camera. After loading the flight plans for the Police pilot, the crew took off to complete the remaining collections. Upon completion of the flight, the CessnaCam, spectrometer, and digital camera were quickly removed.  Downloading and initial processing of the spectrometer data began and the digital camera imagery was quickly geo-located and reviewed. Finally, the Pod and all sensors and cameras were packed to return to the US as checked baggage carried by the crew.