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ESA Embraces Open Source With New SAR Toolbox

ScuttleMonkey posted about 6 years ago | from the other-applications dept.

Software 62

phyr writes "The European Space Agency (ESA) has released its Next ESA SAR Toolbox (NEST) freely as GPL for Linux and Windows. It provides an integrated viewer for reading, calibrating, post-processing and analysis of ESA (ERS 1&2, ENVISAT) and 3rd party (Radarsat2, TerraSarX, Alos Palsar, JERS) SAR level 1 data and higher. ESA has chosen to distribute the software as fully open source to allow the remote sensing community to easily develop new readers/writers and post-processors for SAR data with their NEST Java API. The software provides both a command line interface and GUI for all features including data conversion, graph processing, coregistration, multilooking, filtering, and band arithmetic."

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SAR: Sexual Anal Release (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26334203)

first post

Re:SAR: Sexual Anal Release (1, Funny)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#26334549)

No you fool! It's SARS!!! My god, just when I thought I was safe! Damn you europeans, bringing space SARS back with you, you'll kill us all!

huh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26334217)

Anyone else misread that as "ESR Embraces RMS's cock"?

FINALLY !!! (4, Funny)

liquidpele (663430) | about 6 years ago | (#26334221)

Now that we have what every user needed, Linux is finally ready for the desktop.

Re:FINALLY !!! (0, Flamebait)

ethana2 (1389887) | about 6 years ago | (#26334655)

Ubuntu is far more ready for the desktop than XP, don't know about Vista as I've never used it. OSX, of course, doesn't have hardware support worth crap.

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | about 6 years ago | (#26334761)

This will be the year of the Android desktop!

Re:FINALLY !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26334777)

just curious -- do you realize how out of touch with reality you are? I've never known anyone who was batshit crazy, so maybe you could enlighten me.

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

Kagura (843695) | about 6 years ago | (#26335003)

I just hope they don't lose this toolbox like they did the last one [wikipedia.org] !

Also, {insert misogynistic comment here}! ;)

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

AberBeta (851747) | about 6 years ago | (#26387009)

That was NASA you insensitive clod!

Re:FINALLY !!! (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 6 years ago | (#26334787)

Um, what? OS X, while I personally rather dislike the "can't install our OS on non-Mac-approved hardware..." ... it DOES support that Mac-approved hardware, it seems.

Vista is usable.

XP is quite usable on the desktop, I've used it for quite a few years now.

Ubuntu is usable too, at least by most people with standard hardware. It's when you buy new hardware (like... a printer) that normal users can really run into problems.

Saying Ubuntu is more ready than XP is ... um... un-informed, IMO. Of course, we may have different definitions of the word ready.

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

ethana2 (1389887) | about 6 years ago | (#26334837)

My grandma, mom, and sister use it exclusively, and I don't ever have to mess with it, I just run updates every once in a while. You don't have to go out and find drivers for every little thing, 'cause for the most part, stuff Just Works. It does everything they need it to, it does everything I need it to. It's ready for us.

Re:FINALLY !!! (2, Interesting)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 6 years ago | (#26334971)

"Ready for us" (meaning, I suppoce, one to four desktop computers, probably fairly standard bought-from-Dell or something?) does not equal "more ready for the desktop [generic] than XP."

My parents use SuSE 11.0 (will upgrade to 11.1 as soon as I try it out and make sure it works well enough for them), but I usually have to go "fix" things now and then. Something doesn't display, audio isn't playing, the printer didn't work, how do I listen to music (no iTunes), etc.

I don't know exactly what your grandma, mom, and sister use it for, but I know that it doesn't take too many slightly-specialized (i.e., not just "check my e-mail") needs to make it a lot harder to set up for someone.

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

Antonovich (1354565) | about 6 years ago | (#26336375)

Both my folks are using ubuntu on old laptops (an HP and a Dell, both installed with 0 hassles) and have been for a while now. Why? Well at the start they wanted vindoze (both licences somewhere in the void...) but I wasn't going to search the web for a crack for them, and they didn't want to pay. So I said "well, I can have a system (COMPLETE system, including office suite, etc.) up for you in an hour or so but you probably won't get any viruses with this system, so you have to be sure...". A while passed. My father happened upon an free Canon printer not long ago but after I couldn't get it working via ssh (12,000 kms or so of physical difference), he was happy to go out and buy an HP. He plugged it in and everything just worked. He just wanted a printer that worked with ubuntu. I personally had some random bizarre hardware issue with ubuntu kernel patches (that etch doesn't suffer from) but for all non slashdot readers, it's got to be the current best choice.

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

greenbird (859670) | about 6 years ago | (#26336405)

"Ready for us" (meaning, I suppoce, one to four desktop computers, probably fairly standard bought-from-Dell or something?) does not equal "more ready for the desktop [generic] than XP."

You missed the point. Ready for use means with Ubuntu 99% of the time you add hardware and it just works. With Windows it works 99% of the time after you get the driver install CD, put it in the computer, attempt to install the drivers, go to the manufacturer's web site download the latest drivers, install those, try and figure out why the AV and Anti-Spyware software has decided it doesn't like the new hardware...

I could go on but you get the point.

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | about 6 years ago | (#26336613)

Ready for use means with Ubuntu 99% of the time you add hardware and it just works.

Hmmm. Oddly enough, I've had problems with various Linux distros (Mandrake, SuSE, Ubuntu, RedHat) and various versions (have used SuSE since 10.1, for example) and hardware. I have had very few issues with Windows in that particular department (am NOT saying that Windows is flawless or something stupid like that), especially with the ones you describe, especially with antivirus stuff (aside from Norton doing strange things). So, either I am in the 1% of Linux users and 99% of Windows users, or something else is weird. On Linux, I've even had problems with something as simple as a USB flash drive (I think it had to do with a write cache).

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) | about 6 years ago | (#26341041)

Ubuntu is far more ready for the desktop than XP

My parents use SuSE 11.0 [...] I usually have to go "fix" things now and then

He didn't say 'any Linux distribution'.

Re:FINALLY !!! (3, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | about 6 years ago | (#26335765)

I don't know about Vista, but installing XP on new hardware can be a painful experience.

Re:FINALLY !!! (1)

Zibri (1063838) | about 6 years ago | (#26337541)

Saying Ubuntu is more ready than XP is ... um... un-informed, IMO. Of course, we may have different definitions of the word ready.

Ready to get hacking on that printer problem!

SAR (4, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about 6 years ago | (#26334257)

Synthetic Aperture Radar [wikipedia.org]

Re:SAR (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26334403)

Interesting you should mention SAR: Quite some years ago, I was running an Amiga as my main system (relatively high end Amiga 4000, not some toy games thing). I was talking to a guy on IRC and he was bragging about putting a bomb on a plane. This was well before 2001, so the world wasn't in the grips of "OMG terrorists!", but it still seemed like a fairly big deal to me. Now, from my perspective, I was pretty sure the guy was just talking out his arse, but I wasn't really 100% sure, so for safety's sake, I didn't really want to just leave it.

At this point, let me elaborate that I was in fact a teenager, and also not particularly "worldly wise". It was at this point, I made somewhat of a mistake. I had access to a few servers I really shouldn't have, and decided that since I didn't want to get involved in the process of a police investigation (there's nothing more I could tell them other than what the guy said on IRC such as the fact that Rob Malda sucks a mean cock and likes to have his homosexual lovers eat shit tacos with his 'special sauce'), I sent an email "anonymously" through a badly configured mail server (forging my own headers using telnet as my SMTP client) and informed the police and the airport in question about what the guy had said.

Two days later, the police arrived at my door (um, yeh, I'd sent the email "anonymously", but hadn't taken any steps to obscure my IP address, so all they needed to do was call the owner of the mail server, followed by my ISP). They had a search warrant stating they could seize any computer related equipment in my house, and stated it was issued "under suspicion of Attempted Murder and Breach of the Telecommunications Act" (no I'm not kidding... it really did say "Attempted Murder").

They took all my computers and related equipment (right down to a stack of old SCSI drives I had in my sock drawer). I spent a couple of MONTHS without them. I got a nice write-up in the local paper, but that wasn't much consolation. After two months, I made a complaint to the Police Complaints Authority stating that it really was ridiculous for the police to have my stuff for so long (their ongoing excuse was that they sent it to another city for analysis). I finally got it back about two weeks after that, only to find that they'd ripped the HDD out of my A4000 and erased it. I can only assume they stuck it in a PC, saw that it was "not formatted" and tried to "recover" the data from it.

They made no statements about whether my HDD had been "helpful" in their investigation or not, and I heard no further from them after that (including no further comments about the "suspicion of attempted murder"!). The best I could get from them was a weak apology about my data loss, as being a private individual (and unemployed at that), there was no protection for my data under the law (if I'd been a company, I probably could've sued, but a private individual's data was (may still be?) essentially considered worthless in the eyes of the law).

For reference: the country this happened in was the United States - normally a pretty nice place, but don't expect small town cops, or even the "computer analysis team" to have ANY idea what they're doing or admit that this is the case (actually, I would HOPE this has changed over the years, but I wouldn't bet on it).

PS: This is sm2704 but posting as AC to avoid the karma hit from /. trolling faggsters.

Visualization (4, Interesting)

johnny maxwell (1050822) | about 6 years ago | (#26334451)

A not totally off-topic question: Can anyone recommend a free data visualization and analysis/plotting package? Something a bit more powerful than gnuplot :)

Re:Visualization (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26334531)


Re:Visualization (2, Informative)

PeterBrett (780946) | about 6 years ago | (#26334641)

R [r-project.org] ?

R -- is the name of the stats package you want (1)

xixax (44677) | about 6 years ago | (#26339127)

R rocks. Nothing like a Turing complete plotting package. The learning curve is a bit steep, but the tutorial PDFs are a good start.

R graphs are not "pretty". There are no 3D exploding pie charts because they take a very Edward Tufte approach to make sure the graph types maximise understanding. As a result I think they have minimalist beauty.

Re:Visualization (1)

hcpxvi (773888) | about 6 years ago | (#26341091)

Seconded. Over the last half-decade or so, R has gone from feeble and crashy to absolutely rock-solid. I use it all the time. And the graphical output is generally clean and clear by default. Despite coming from a stats background it is not just for biologists and social scientists, it is equally suitable for hard science plotting tasks. Now, if I could only persuade more of my colleagues to accept it. The will insist on being sucked in by MATLAB and the drug-dealer selling tactics of its sellers.

Re:Visualization & MATLAB (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | about 6 years ago | (#26341105)

Sadly, I haven't yet found a tool which makes as nice EPS output as MATLAB for the purposes of embedding in my reports. Typically nowadays I do all my work in Octave, then SSH into the lab so that I can run MATLAB and generate EPS from the data...

I do actually need to learn to use R. My fiancee had to learn it for her computational statistics course last year -- that's the only reason I know about it.

Re:Visualization (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | about 6 years ago | (#26334685)

In the same vein, does anyone know what happened to SeeSoft?

Re:Visualization (2, Informative)

jd (1658) | about 6 years ago | (#26334699)

OpenDX [opendx.org] is good. is also popular, leading to some nice packages like MayaVi2. ChomboVis [lbl.gov] is no longer under development but may also prove useful. GGobi [ggobi.org] is another very nice toolkit. For a more mathematical visualization, there's also always Octave [gnu.org] .

Re:Visualization (1)

lightversusdark (922292) | about 6 years ago | (#26336765)

Slight niggle.
OpenDX is based on IBM Data Explorer. MayaVi is one of many front-ends for VTK.

Re:Visualization (1)

pato101 (851725) | about 6 years ago | (#26334861)

Check grace or xmgrace (successor of xmgr)

Re:Visualization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335489)


Re:Visualization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26336011)

scilab is pure crap. Not the implementation, the actual specification of the language is completely stupid. Do you know that any variable from calling function is in the scope of the called function. Yes, if you have a variable n in both the caller and the callee and you forgot to initialize n in the callee, you won't even be warned.

Better, the last dimension of a table will frequently be dropped out if it is one. However, once dropped, it won't accept access with the number of indices you declared it with:
--you declare tab with size (Nx, Ny, Nz).
--you do some stuff to it.
--you try to access tab(i,j,k) with 1=i=Nx,
1=j=Ny, 1=k=Nz.

Well in many cases, if k==1 and Nx==1, then
tab(i,j,k) will get you an error with incompatible dimensions because scilab wants you to type tab(i,j) (dropping the k).

Guess what, you now have a program that for no good reason can't handle thin plate simulation with a thickness of one cell.

Conclusion, those that programmed scilab may well have been gifted programmers but they seriously fucked up when designing it.

Re:Visualization (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335631)

You could take a look at Tulip: http://www.tulip-software.org/ [tulip-software.org]

Here's a good place to dig around:
http://freshmeat.net/browse/135/ [freshmeat.net]

Great news! (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | about 6 years ago | (#26334519)

This is great stuff. I'm planning on starting a PhD course in remote sensing applications with SAR in July, and I'm sure this will be fantastically useful! I was worrying about struggling with proprietary licensing (argh Matlab argh argh)... maybe this will let me avoid it.

Pffffftt (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 6 years ago | (#26334679)

They use way better stuff than this every week on CSI: Miami.

Re:Pffffftt (1)

ianare (1132971) | about 6 years ago | (#26334749)

yeah but how much of it is real?

yeah yeah 'whooosh' I know. still, someone had to say it ...

Re:Pffffftt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335695)


You're right, someone did have to say it! ;)

Re:Pffffftt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335801)

What do you mean? It is TV! They can't just make it up like in a book.

Re:Pffffftt (1)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#26335843)

Not even the tits are real on that show.

Re:Pffffftt (1)

AceofSpades19 (1107875) | about 6 years ago | (#26336989)

You mean the stuff they write in Visual Basic?

What they _forgot_ to mention... (1)

jimbudncl (1263912) | about 6 years ago | (#26334781)

The software is released free and open source, however you have to pay shipping+handling for the patented white medical mask.


Allowing more talent (1)

Dadamh (1441475) | about 6 years ago | (#26334793)

To be honest, I find this an interesting turn for a space agency. Releasing this sort of spec allows for the nearly endless genius of the internet to produce hundreds of completely awesome and powerful viewers for this sort of data.

I don't know if the ESA pictured doing this, but in the future, they can just choose from a half-dozen open source projects that far outstrip whatever they were using before. Good show!

Boy, this post seems irrelevant to most /. users.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26334853)

And thanks for posting so that every Slashdotter has to click the link. Those of us that are real ESA investigators that need this package now can't get to the overloaded website...

Re:Boy, this post seems irrelevant to most /. user (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335087)

I'm glad it was posted here. I was planning to write my own version of this software to read SAR data and now I may not have to.

Re:Boy, this post seems irrelevant to most /. user (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26337271)

You really should google before spending a lot of time writing software....there are some good open source alternatives out there.

Re:Boy, this post seems irrelevant to most /. user (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335171)

I wasn't going to click the link, but after reading your post I decided I might as well.

Re:Boy, this post seems irrelevant to most /. user (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26340709)

Teh intarwebs, a place where men are men, women are men and kids are federal agents. And anon cowards are ESA researchers.

I personally don't give a flying fuck about the ESA but still have to congratulate them for the smart decision.

ESA has been doing this for years (4, Informative)

reddish (646830) | about 6 years ago | (#26334989)

ESA has been sponsoring FOSS projects for years; I worked on the GPL'ed BEAT [stcorp.nl] software no less than seven years ago that was commissioned by ESA (disclosure: I am no longer with the company that develops it).

See here [esa.int] for more examples of open source software funded by ESA. They are really ahead of the pack in this respect.

Open Hardware also from the ESA (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335629)

Originally, the LEON SPARC clone was from ESA.
Before that, there was the ESA ERC32 SPARC processor.

Now the project is sponsored by ESA and done by www.gaisler.com

Re:ESA has been doing this for years (1)

amirulbahr (1216502) | about 6 years ago | (#26336755)

Who would have guessed a publicly funded research organisation would contribute knowledge back to the community?

Re:ESA has been doing this for years (1)

the donner party (1000036) | about 6 years ago | (#26340275)

It's all too rare in Europe, and in that respect we are positively mediaeval compared to the US. The thinking here is that government organizations should charge as much as they can for specialist products (as opposed to public services intended for everyone), in order to reduce their burden for the taxpayer. On top of that, in some fields we have public-private partnerships where are single private company resells government-created data to the public.

Re:ESA has been doing this for years (3, Interesting)

jlar (584848) | about 6 years ago | (#26337529)

Unfortunately ESA has a data policy which is lightyears behind that of NASA. While NASA data are just a click away, ESA data are tied up in red tape.

At least that was my experience some years ago.

Re:ESA has been doing this for years (1)

okock (701281) | about 6 years ago | (#26340635)

Thanks for pointing this out. Actually NEST is based on BEAM [brockmann-consult.de] , which is currently in version 4.5 (this tool is the first one referenced on the esa page [esa.int] you linked)

In English? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 6 years ago | (#26335021)

I'm not an astronomer, and I am completely at a loss for what all these acronyms actually say, other than speculating that it has something to do with processing radio-telescope data...

Re:In English? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335199)

They are all Earth observing satellites using Synthetic Aperture RADAR (SAR). Satellite sends down a radar pulse, picks up the backscattered returns and processes it into an image. From there analysis can tell you a bunch of things: you can monitor sea ice, detect oil slicks, find ships, monitor vegetation, etc. For a lot of applications SAR is excellent because the pulses go right through clouds and you do not need solar illumination to be able to see.

Alternative link (1)

zrq (794138) | about 6 years ago | (#26335345)

The article points to the Array Systems Computing Inc. [array.ca] site, which seems to be slashdotted.

Information about the tools is also available from the ESA website. [esa.int]

Real Astronomers (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26335475)

use Lisp.

Fuck Java.

Kilgore Trout

GPL is not specific enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26336251)

How can you expect us to complain about the license if you don't tell us if it is GPLv2 or GPLv3? Are you trying to make us RTFA?

RAT and Optiks (1)

Lord Satri (609291) | about 6 years ago | (#26336255)

Two other very related open source SAR/radar tools: RAT [slashgeo.org] , from the project's website: "Our motivation to start the development of RAT is that modern remote sensing software like Erdas Image or ENVI include only some basic SAR functionality. Advanced algorithms in SAR polarimetry (PolSAR), interferometry (InSAR) and polarimetric interferometry (PolInSAR) have to be implemented by oneself. So we descided to start the development of RAT. RAT should bring modern SAR algorithms to a wider user-base by simplifying in particular the data handling and processing of complex SAR data." ... and Optiks [slashgeo.org] : From the article: "Opticks is used by scientists and analysts within the Department of Defense Intelligence Community to analyze remote sensing data and produce actionable intelligence. Opticks supports Imagery, Motion Imagery, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and multispectral and hyperspectral remote sensing data." From the OSGeo post: "A couple of observations: 1. The Contributors Agreement (click on the Contributors Agreement link on the left side of the page) is likely rather intimidating for the average open source contributor. 2. It doesn't use GDAL (although it does have OSSIM as a dependency)."

Similar to... (1)

Midnight Warrior (32619) | about 6 years ago | (#26339343)

Opticks is developed in the U.S. and is also open source, uses the QT library and C++ and is certified for use under Windows and Solaris. It could be compiled for Linux and/or OSX by anyone determined enough to get it compiled. When I last examined the source code, it's build system was focused around Visual C++.

Opticks lists compatibility for reading SAR data and it would be interesting to see what it took to read from the mentioned sensors. It is fully capable of dealing with multiple image or motion typed analysis techniques and formats.

Opticks is available at https://opticks.ballforge.net/ [ballforge.net] and is released under the LGPL 2.1.

ORFEO Toolbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#26340473)

Another possibility in the line of open source software is the orfeo toolbox
sponsored by the French Space Agency (CNES). Have a look at http://smsc.cnes.fr/PLEIADES/lien3_vm.htm [smsc.cnes.fr] or or the blog at http://blog.orfeo-toolbox.org/ [orfeo-toolbox.org]

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