Friday, October 17, 2008

Sensor Spotlight: Leica Geosystems ADS80 Airborne Digital Sensor

I’ve touched on ADS40 sensor technology in a few different posts, but the focus of today is the new ADS80 sensor. The ADS80 is a pushbroom airborne sensor that was formally announced and highlighted at the ISPRS conference this past summer in Beijing.

See here for an interesting discussion on the transition to from analogue to digital processing as well as pushbroom sensors. The new sensor represents a solid advancement, and arguably delivers the best quality imagery of any of the commercial large-format airborne sensors.

But what is the difference between the ADS80 and the previous version, the ADS40? This post will cover the differences and explore some of the specific technical improvements.
Firstly, there are several overall design improvements. There is a new design for the data channel with overall data throughput increasing from 65 MB/s to 130MB/s. The fastest cycle time has increased from 800Hz to 1000Hz (this allows for faster flying speeds than previously possible), and there are data compression options for 10 bit, 12 bit, as well as the raw data.

The ADS80 also features a new design for the Control Unit (called CU80). The new Control Unit is smaller and contains an integrated slow for two Mass Memory units. Here what the new CU80 looks like:

The new system also introduces a new solid state Mass Memory unit (MM80). This size is smaller and weights only 2.5 kg, and has a few different options for data storage modes: single volume, joined volume, and in-flight backup. The joined volume of the two MM offers the greatest data throughput as well as the largest storage capacity, which is ideal for large-area collection missions.

For direct georeferencing applications, IPAS comes embedded in the control unit as well. This is critical for image collection missions in remote areas where ground control may not be possible: this is important in applications such as disaster mapping, remote area mapping (e.g. certain pipeline mapping applications) as well as surveillance operations.

Overall, the system weight has been reduced by 26 kg! It also contains new periphery equipment, including a new GPS/GLONASS Antenna.

Lastly, what does the imagery look like? In short, it looks fantastic. Here’s a sample of imagery collected at 5cm GSD over Lucern, Switzerland earlier this year (click on the image for a larger view).
More information, including both a product brochure and data sheet, is available from the Leica Geosystems website. Also note that new a new software package for ground processing, called XPro, will also be released quite soon.

Special thanks to Ruediger Wagner, ADS Product Manager at Leica Geosystems, for providing details on the new sensor.

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