Pablo's Mission Planning Website
Greetings Mission Planners,
Well two's company and three's a crowd - at least when it comes to U.S. 1 Meter commercial imagery vendors. Last fall OrbImage announced their acquisition of Space Imaging. For those of you that don't remember, Space Imaging was there the "Firstest" when they launched their IKONOS Satellite in 1999, however their failure to win one of the two NGA NextView licenses meant that they'd be competing against two vendors who already had a guaranteed customer. With the acquisition complete OrbImage has unveiled a new name for their company - GeoEye. There's more information on the acquisition at the website http://www.orbimage-acquisition.com/.
As for the two NextView satellites, development continues. GeoEye will launch OrbView-5 in "early 2007" and will feature 0.41 Meter resolution panchromatic and 1.63 Meter multispectral (four bands) imagery. It will be able to collect 800,000 square km of imagery a day, and store it on 1.2TB solid state recorders. As for Digital Globe, their WorldView I satellite continues to be projected for a launch "no later than 2006" (no earlier than that at this point either) and will feature 0.5 Meter panchromatic imagery and no multispectral capability. WorldView I should be able to collect 500,000 square km of imagery a day. DG continues to project launching a second satellite, WorldView II in 2008 that will feature 0.5 Meter panchromatic and 1.8 Meter multispectral imagery in eight bands.
No matter how you cut it, once these satellites reach orbit NGA will be swimming in commercial imagery since both providers are already on contract to do so as part of NextView. NGA is taking steps to make that data available to the masses, with such new tools as the WARP-UNIL (unclassified web access and retrieval system). The WARP-UNIL is already up and on line and allows you to download commercial imagery across to your unclassified PC. You can sign up for a WARP-UNIL account at https://warp.nga.mil/cgi-bin/nlprime_Registration/RegistrationForm.cgi. If you've been waiting for years to be able to download unclassified imagery to an unclassified PC then your wait is over. Right now the downloads are in NITF format, but if you've gotten your hands on a copy of PFPS 4.0 then that won't be a problem since it supports display of NITF files as an "overlay" (solid or semi-transparent) on top of charts, CIB, DTED etc. NGA is also working to incorporate a GeoTiff translator for folks stuck with mission planning software that's less advanced than PFPS.
Mission Planning Tip: Point files in FalconView 3.3.1
FalconView's 3.3.1 display of point files looks a bit different than it did in 3.2. For one thing, most things that formerly were titled "Local Points" are now titled "Points" because you've now got the capability to display multiple point files. More on that later, but first lets take a look at the most obvious changes. Unlike earlier versions, FalconView 3.3.1 lists the active "Local Point" file (the term Local Point applies to the single Point file that's active across all the PFPS applications, including FalconView, CFPS etc.) at the bottom of it's overlay list:
Turning off a Local Point file is a bit different too. Instead of just unchecking you have to go into a submenu and select "Close":
You'll notice that there are checkboxes beside the two different "Point Groups" inside the Point File "Demo_Set_A.lpt" called Set_1 and Set_2. Prior to FalconView 3.3 the only way to turn on/off point groups was within the Overlay Options. Now you can do it directly from the overlay menu.
The Overlay Options menu for Points looks different too. First off, it's now in a "Points" instead of "Local Points" section:
Starting the Point Editor from the Tools menu has changed too:
Once you're in the Point Editor things work the same way, but there is one minor (but much needed fix). Prior to FalconView 3.3 if you wanted to change an existing point's icon you had to use the PFPS Database Admin program. Now you can edit a point and double click on the icon symbol in the upper left hand corner:
After double clicking you'll be able to select any icon you want:
The biggest change for the Point overlay is the ability to open multiple point files simultaneously. Go to File - Open and you'll see a new menu selection to open "Points":
Now you can open a second point file and have it displayed on the map simultaneously with your "Local Points" file:
In the Overlay menu you'll now see both Point files:
You'll also see both files in Overlay - Options - Points:
You'll notice the new buttons in the Points section of the Overlay Options to Open and Close Point files directly, however there's an even easier way to open Point files (and just about all other FalconView files). Go directly to the folder that contains the file you want to open. You'll notice that the files now have generic FalconView icons, just like MS Excel files have an Excel icon:
Double click on the file you want to open and it will be opened immediately in FalconView. You can also "drag and drop" the files you want to open onto the FalconView program window.
So how can you tell which points belong to what file when you're editing one of the Point files? When you turn on the Point Editor you'll see that the points from Point files that aren't being edited are darkened, to indicate they aren't active. Compare the icons from Demo_Set_A.lpt in the window above with the way they look below:
Unfortunately FalconView will be the only application aware of the additional point files that you've opened. You can use the additional points to define turn points in a route file, but points that are not from the active "Local Point file will be treated as user points. The local points in FalconView 4.0 are more or less identical to 3.3.1, but PFPS 4.1 should see a "reunification" between FalconView and CFPS when both will have the ability to use multiple point files.
FalconView 4.0 Feature of the Week
I've decided to list a new feature in PFPS4.0 each week to help demonstrate the benefits of using 4.0 (bought, paid for and available for use) right now. Today I'll discuss the new FalconView "File Open" dialog:
When you open a file in FalconView 3.3.1 you're first required to decide what type of file you want to open, then are limited to opening one file at a time. If the file you want to open is "read only" or on a read only path then forget about it. FalconView 3.3.1 can only open files it can write to.
You can forget all those limitation in FalconView 4.0. First off you now can open all types of files at the same time. In the example above you can see .gps trail files, .lpt point files, .shp ShapeFiles, .drw drawing files, .rte route files and .thr threat files. Each also has it's own style icon. Using Windows standard CTRL and SHIFT keys you can select and open multiple files simultaneously. FalconView 4.0 will open a read-only file without complaint, it'll just ask for a new filename when you try and save.
As for the default directory, FalconView will now default to opening files from the last directory used. If you always open files from a directory on the network then FalconView will always be pointed there. If you click on the "Available Types" on the right hand side of the file open dialog then FalconView will go to the directory where you last opened that type of file and only display that type of file.
There's no longer any reason to organize your files into folder by type. Put all your files for Red Flag in a folder called "Nellis", all your files for Iraq in a folder called "OIF", all your files for hurricane relief in a folder called "Katrina" etc. Although a new file open dialog doesn't seem very sexy, this has got to be one of the areas that people have complained the most about - and with good reason. With 4.0 file opening has gone from one of FalconView's most common annoyances to one of its best features.
Enjoy the ride,