Fall Meeting of GRSS Joint Chapter Front Range


Meeting to discuss trade-offs between space hardware and ground processing, image formation and calibration, presenter is Christopher Rampsad, VP of Engineering for UrtheCast, a Canadian company doing imagery. The meeting will be a chance to meet with your local peers as well.

  Date and Time




  • 1111 Engineering Drive
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • United States 80309
  • Building: Engineering Center
  • Room Number: ECCR 200
  • Click here for Map
  • W. Neill Kefauver 3039776800

  • Starts 20 August 2019 03:38 PM
  • Ends 02 September 2019 03:38 PM
  • All times are America/Denver
  • No Admission Charge
  • Register


Chris Ramperstad

Chris Ramperstad of Engineering, UrtheCast


Why Satellite Imagery Providers Mess with Your Pixels

(a behind the scenes look at raw satellite data processing)
Humans have been launching earth observation satellites for decades, but space
remains a complex and challenging endeavour where we are still striving to simplify,
democratize, and innovate. “New Space” has been doing its part to accelerate the pace
of innovation by employing agile engineering and off-the-shelf hardware, and by
creating smaller and lower cost satellites. However, challenges remain and, in some
areas, have even increased. Mission design is one example. True mission design takes a
holistic view and strategically moves complexity between space (satellite) and ground
(software) in order to create the best possible product at the lowest cost. This means
that as companies strive for simpler, cheaper, and faster hardware solutions, challenges
are often moved from the satellite to the ground segment and the satellite mission’s
final product quality can only be realized after including the ground processing.
While many users are content to receive analysis ready products, numerous scientists
and end-users seek the purest, untouched form of raw pixel data directly from the
satellites so that they can model and control exactly what manipulations happen to the
imagery. These types of requests become even more challenging when data providers
rely on proprietary algorithms to produce the data quality their customers demand. The
truth is that very few data providers are willing to provide actual raw data directly from
the satellites. Instead, the industry has expanded the term “Raw” data rather flexibly,
with new names such as L1A, L1B, or Basic products. In reality, these “Raw” products
are processed long before getting to the end user and in some cases are processed
quite significantly.

This seminar explores some of the trade-offs often made between satellite and ground,
the reasons satellite image providers manipulate the image pixels prior to delivery,
some of the manipulations that are done prior to generating products, and strategies for
determining if the data provider has accurately processed and calibrated the imagery.
By the end of this session, participants will understand how to reliably incorporate wellexecuted
processing by satellite data providers into their data stream


Chris is currently the VP of Engineering (Acting) at UrtheCast, a leading-edge earth
observation company based in Vancouver, Canada. He is responsible for the overall
engineering activities for the upcoming UrtheDaily mission, which will power
geoanalytics at a daily global scale with true scientific quality 5-meter resolution
imagery. Chris has been developing mission solutions and software algorithms for
improving image quality in earth observation sensors for over 15 years for some of
industries’ leading satellites including the WorldView Constellation, as well as other
classified projects. He holds a Master of Applied Science in Aerospace Engineering from
the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), a B. Eng in Aerospace
Engineering from Carleton University in Ottawa and a BSc in Physics (Honours) from the
University of Manitoba. For the past 6 years, Chris has been employed at UrtheCast
where he acted as a ground and space systems engineer, technical lead for UrtheCast’s
optical processing system, and technical commissioning lead for the Theia medium
resolution and Iris high-resolution video sensor (World’s first colour high-resolution
video from space). Chris also worked at MDA in Vancouver for 9 years as a ground
segment technical lead on a variety of earth observation satellites and sensors including
the RapidEye Constellation.


Address:1055 Canada Place Suite 33, , Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6C 0C3


Complimentary snack

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