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STARS present on the 9th EARSeL SIG imaging spectroscopy workshop

STARS has reached halfway its project lifetime at this stage and its about time to start disseminating the activities and initial results to the scientific community. The 9th EARSeL SIG Imaging Spectroscopy workshop is a topmost meeting for European Remote Sensing researchers emphasizing in hyperspectral remote sensing. This year it was held in Luxembourg city at the fabulous Neumünster Abbey from 14 until 17 April 2015 and attracted approx. 180 participants. On behalf of the whole STARS team (including external collaborators) I disseminated the general concept of STARS project, the way we use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the anticipated products to be derived in the forthcoming months and how this information will assist the farming societies and science.

Neumünster abbey, the conference venue at the left.

Traditional hyperspectral topics such as algorithmic development, vegetation mapping, biophysical properties retrieval and thermal hyperspectral dominated the conference. Yet, a special session which attracted attention has been the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) based hyperspectral remote sensing of vegetation, which dealt with the ongoing progress of vegetation monitoring with the use of lightweight hyperspectral sensors onboard UAVs. UAV’s are the ‘next big thing’ in remote sensing and teams are still experimenting on the capabilities of this technology. Two new hyperspectral lightweight cameras have been demonstrated and several institutes are working on assembling their own prototypes of UAV and associated sensors. 


UAVs, the 'next big thing' in remote sensing.

Although the area is new to hyperspectral community with several technical and engineering impediments to be overcome in the near future (e.g. short flight duration and area coverage), it is a promising new spatial scale of remote sensing where fine charactestics of the agricultural fields start to appear. STARS is a project collecting and archiving regularly information at field, UAV and satellite level and it will be a full-blown dataset from which we will infer information over the usability of remote sensing at these spatial levels. While satellite and field remote sensing have long been employed in such study cases, the UAV is a newcomer. There were several discussions with the UAV-hyperspectral community on the use of UAVs for agricultural monitoring, however at this early stage there are only isolated and experimental efforts on the usability of hyperspectral sensors on UAVs. Interestingly, most of the applications presented were demonstrating crop field investigations, which is STARS major focus.