Columbus Sailed Here! Multi-Spectral Imaging of an Important 15th Century World Map
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

CIS professor Dr. Roger Easton featured in story about multi-spectral imaging the Martellus Map

Oct. 7, 2014
Mary Downs

Roger Easton checks the positioning of the map for the next shot

Roger Easton checks the positioning of the map for the next shot; Gregory Heyworth operates the computer that controls the camera; and Michael Phelps monitors the process.

Photo by Chet Van Duzer.   |   Click here to view full image gallery


In August 2014, an interdisciplinary team of imaging scientists and scholars gathered at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library to undertake exciting work on a map that in all probability influenced Christopher Columbus’s conception of world geography.  Drawn by German cartographer, Henricus Martellus, who was working in Florence, Italy, in about 1491, the map shows the entire world as it was known at the time.

[Text shortened for length; use "Read Full Story" link below right to read more about what makes the Martellus Map remarkable and view a gallery of images.]

With funding from NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access, an interdisciplinary team of humanities scholars, digital specialists, and librarians is about to open a new window on the Martellus map through the use of multi-spectral imaging.  The imaging will render the text legible for detailed analysis, which will shed light on understanding of world geography and cartography at the time, as well as help scholars address specific research questions, such as whether Martin Waldseemüller drew on the spatial relationships and the place names of the Martellus map for his own 1507 map.


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Multi-spectral imaging, a technique that has only been developed in the past decade, captures multiple images at specific frequencies of light, including ultraviolet and infrared, which are then combined to reveal information that is not visible to the human eye.  See the image gallery for an example of how multi-spectral imaging enhances the legibility of a darkened papyrus fragment, from a recent NEH-funded project at Brigham Young University.  This particular fragment, P. Tebt. 254, contains a petition to Asklepiades, overseer of the revenues, from the royal farmers of Kerkeosiris, ca. 113 BCE and was recovered from a crocodile mummy exhumed at the ancient site of Tebtunis,  Egypt in 1900 CE.  Compare the legibility of the fragment, photographed with standard photography (on the left) and with multi-spectral imaging (on the right).  It is especially valuable for recovering text that has been obscured by fading, water damage, over-painting, and palimpsesting.  Notably, the technique does not expose the already fragile map to destructive light rays. 

The Martellus map project team consists of Michael Phelps of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, an organization based in Los Angeles, California, that uses digital technologies to make manuscripts and other historical source materials accessible for study and appreciation; Gregory Heyworth, of the Lazarus Project at the University of Mississippi, which facilitates the recovery of manuscripts through multi-spectral imaging, and another member of the Lazarus Project, Roger Easton, Professor of Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester NY; Kenneth Boydston, a digital imagery pioneer and CEO of MegaVision; and Chet Van Duzer, a specialist in the history of cartography at the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, and the director of the project. 

Van Duzer and his colleagues transported a custom-designed multi-spectral imaging system (see images in gallery) from Oxford, Mississippi, to New Haven, where they are working closely with the curators and the digital technology team at the Beinecke Library.  They divided the Martellus map into 55 overlapping regions, or tiles, and took 22 images at varying wavelengths per tile.  When the project is completed next year, digital processing should reveal any previously illegible text and images on the map.  With metadata assigned to the images, information will be made available about the content and imaging conditions.  Images of the Martellus map and metadata will be made freely available to the public in early 2015 via the Beinecke Digital Library Web site.  National Geographic is also planning an article on the Martellus map with publication of the multi-spectral images.  Thanks to NEH funding, the public will shortly have access to a set of technical images of the map that will reveal knowledge about map making and geography at a critical moment of global exploration.

Support for this project was awarded through the Humanities Collections and Reference Resource grant program from NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access: PW-51707-14 to the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, Los Angeles, CA. Support for the multi-spectral imaging of Egyptian papyrus fragments was awarded through the Humanities Collections and Reference Resource grant program from NEH’s Division of Preservation and Access: PW-50427-09 to Brigham Young University, Provo.

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Original Source: National Endowment for the Humanities

Revealing Secrets of a 15th Century Map: Beinecke Welcomes Multispectral Imaging Project
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

Oct. 20, 2014
David Brensilver


The Martellus map on an easel, which allowed the object to be repositioned for the camera. Image courtesy of Chet Van Duzer.

In 1962, thanks to an anonymous donation, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University acquired a 15th century world map created around 1491 by German cartographer Henricus Martellus. According to Michael Phelps, director of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library in Rolling Hills Estates, California, the map – or a version of it created by Martellus – is likely one that Christopher Columbus consulted prior to embarking on the 1492 voyage that landed him on the shores of the New World. A map made in 1507 by another German cartographer, Martin Waldseemüller, makes use of the Martellus map, Phelps said, explaining that the latter represents “a real turning point in history.”

The problem with learning more from the Martellus map, until this point, had been that to the naked eye, Phelps said, “it’s indistinct.” Time has caused the map to fade. Phelps said that in the 15th century, rivers and cities on the map would have been in great contrast, in terms of the colors that were used to depict them, but that over time, those colors have become muted and (again) indistinct. Until now.

In August, a team of researchers led by independent scholar Chet Van Duzer spent 10 days at the Beinecke using a multispectral imaging process to bring out the history of the map. Mike Cummings, the Beinecke’s public-relations manager, said the library welcomed the multispectral imaging team. “We support all kinds of scholarship and we’re excited to see what they are able to produce,” Cummings said.

Van Duzer said he first began studying the Martellus map as a source for the 1507 Waldseemüller map that resides at the Library of Congress. The significance of the Waldseemüller map, Van Duzer said, is that it was the “first map to apply the name America to the New World.” Wanting to compare the two maps, Van Duzer first studied ultraviolet images that were taken of the Martellus map in the early 1960s – before the map was acquired by Yale University. In 2010, after staff at Yale the previous year made new ultraviolet, infrared, and natural-light images of the map, Van Duzer studied those images at the independently run John Carter Brown Library, on the campus of Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. Able to read about one-third of the map’s previously illegible text, Van Duzer wrote a book on the subject.

“It’s one of the most important maps of the 15th century,” Van Duzer said. “I’ve been sitting on the book for three years now,” he said, waiting for the results of the multispectral imaging process that was conducted at the Beinecke in August. He’s in the process of expanding on his book about the Martellus map. The technology for the Martellus map multispectral imaging project was made available by Gregory Heyworth, a professor in the English department at the University of Mississippi and the director of the not-for-profit Lazarus Project, which connects researchers with portable, high-end multispectral imaging equipment. The project itself was funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Whereas in 2010 he spent a week in Providence trying, with the 2009 images taken at Yale, to read a block of text in the lower-right corner of the Martellus map, Van Duzer said images captured in August have allowed him to read that same text “without any difficulty whatsoever.”

Still, he said, “the processing of the images is an art” that takes a while. At press time, only a handful of the images captured at Yale had been processed. Eagerly, Cummings said he and his colleagues at the Beinecke will “be able to put the images on our website, and we’re excited for that.” Phelps, in an email, explained the multispectral imaging process in detail.

“Multi-spectral imaging,” Phelps wrote, “involves capturing a set of images of a single object at different wavelengths or bands of light, in order to better discern information about the object. Colors of light, including those the human eye can see and those it cannot, can be arranged along a spectrum according to their wavelengths. On this spectrum, the human eye perceives a broad band of different colors or wavelengths of light. … Multi-spectral imaging [MSI] involves capturing individual images at specific wavelengths or narrow bands along this spectrum, in order to discern new information about an object.”

Roger Easton, Phelps wrote, a professor of imaging science at the Rochester Institute of Technology who, along with Phelps (and Heyworth), sits on the Lazarus Project’s Board of Directors, developed the technology, which “creates derivative images that combine data from the captured images.” The technology’s “application to cultural heritage is certainly new,” Phelps explained. A most important part of this kind of project, he pointed out, is the “feedback loop between scholar and scientist” – that is, in this case, between Van Duzer and Easton – through which the team works “to try to extract as much information as we can from the information we extracted from the map.”

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In his above-mentioned email, Phelps explained that Easton “processes the captured images of the Martellus map in order to generate a series of derivative, processed images which maximize the legibility of text and other information on the map. Roger builds an ‘image cube,’ in a sense a stack of the captured images, and then uses statistical methods to analyze the collected data and to distinguish features of the map. Some of these features, such as faded writing, may be illegible to (the) naked eye, but can be isolated statistically and then rendered legible in processed images. A feedback loop between Roger Easton, project scientist, and Chet Van Duzer, project scientist, improves the processed result and insures that we maximize the legibility of faded and obscured text on the map.”

Heyworth pointed out that capturing the images is only 15 percent or 20 percent of the process. The majority of a multispectral imaging project involves the image processing and the task of reading and understanding what’s revealed.

“Multispectral imaging is an esoteric science,” Heyworth said, explaining that “we do textural science,” and that “the technology … is in its inception.”

The goal, he said, is “to reveal writing that is not visible … and also to create a highly color accurate … digital reproduction of the object,” a reproduction that reaches back in time. He likened the process to looking at stars. Through the multispectral imaging process, one “looks into the earliest history of the object,” he said. And through that technology, he said, “we’re changing the canon.”

The Martellus map multispectral imaging project at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was a collaboration between the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, which oversaw the imaging process, and the Lazarus Project, which provided the equipment. The imaging team included independent scholar Chet Van Duzer, who led the project; Gregory Heyworth, a professor of medieval studies at the University of Mississippi and the director of the Lazarus project, who conducted the imaging; Michael Phelps, the director of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library, who served as the project manager; Roger Easton, a professor of imaging science at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the imaging team’s project scientist; and Kenneth Boydston, CEO of the digital imaging company MegaVision, who designed the camera used in the imaging process and helped to capture images of the Martellus map.

Learn more about the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library at Learn more about the Lazarus Project at And visit the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library online at

This article appears in the October issue of The Arts Paper. Read other stories from this issue online here.

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Original Source: Arts Council of Greater New Haven

Science exploration program challenges students with Martian mystery
Astronomy and Space Science

athenaeum logo

Oct. 9, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz


A. Sue Weisler

First-year students in the RIT science exploration program are searching for life on Mars. The small group of undeclared students in the College of Science will analyze fragments from six Martian meteorites for clues to another world. Their research will lead them to sample different aspects of science and, perhaps, find a discipline to major in next year.

Program director Roger Dube didn’t hesitate to ask the incoming students to try to answer one of the biggest questions of the century.

“The project had to have a hands-on laboratory component, an opportunity to exercise the different disciplines in a balanced way, and sizzle. It had to have something to it that makes them excited,” said Dube, professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

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Dube obtained the six meteorite fragments, or carbonatious chondrites, from the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Each came with a chemical analysis and provenance, including date and location of its discovery. He is confident the shards derive from rocks ejected from Mars 10,000 to 100,000 years ago.

“When asteroids hit Mars, they kick up huge clouds of Martian dirt and big chunks of rock get flung into the solar system,” Dube said. “We’ve only been able to identify Martian meteorites confidently since we’ve had rovers on Mars. We were able to do a chemical analysis of what Martian soil looks like.”

The ratio of two isotopes of the element argon identifies a meteorite as “Martian,” he said. It’s an identifying signature.

“Since Mars lost its atmosphere early, heavier isotopes in the air are abundant and appear in the rocks,” Dube said. “The ratio of these two isotopes is markedly different in rocks on Earth and rocks on Mars. The early rovers confirmed this ratio, and it acts as a reliable marker.”

Meteorites also look different than rocks found on Earth.

“The surface of the meteorite gets melted as it travels through the Earth’s atmosphere and ends up with molten rock on the outside,” Dube said. “That’s the outer skin. Inside the rock is totally preserved.”

The science exploration program, in its third year, is a learning environment that requires students to brainstorm and problem-solve whatever idea Dube presents, whether it’s analyzing rocks from Mars or creating a backpack water-filtration system or a microbiological fuel cell, as in the previous years.

The students form teams and sub groups and set goals. They exercise project management, critical thinking and communication skills as they narrow their research and define different techniques to explore.

“I expect the students to be the leaders of the project,” Dube said. “I want them to take ownership of the whole thing. I’m going to be there to make sure they don’t fall off the tracks.”

This year’s group will take direction from existing research and techniques other scientists have used to look for biological activity on Mars. Their project will lead them to professors in the College of Science whose laboratories hold powerful instruments that could help them find traces of something recognizable in the rocks.

“Hopefully by Imagine RIT they will have done all the analysis and have identified regions and features that are candidates,” Dube said. “If they find a candidate, everyone will focus on that and everything we can to confirm our suspicions.”

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Original Source: University News

NIH grant awarded for "Ultrasound standing wave fields for vascular engineering"
Biomedical Imaging

Oct. 6, 2014
Robert L. Clark, University of Rochester Professor and Dean

Diane Dalecki, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Denise Hocking, Associate Professor of Pharmacology & Physiology, both of University of Rochester, have received a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) for their 4-year project “Ultrasound standing wave fields for vascular engineering.” It will advance a novel ultrasound technology to fabricate complex, functional microvascular networks within three-dimensional engineered constructs. Collaborators are Maria Helguera, Associate Professor of Imaging Sciences at RIT, and Ingrid Sarelius, Professor, and Angela Glading, Assistant Professor, in Pharmacology and Physiology. The successful completion of this project will provide new tools for tissue engineering and for a variety of clinical reconstructive and vascular surgery applications. Click here to see a very informative video about this fascinating project.

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Original Source: University of Rochester

Dr. David Messinger named Interim Director of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science
Remote Sensing

Sep. 16, 2014

Dr. Messinger is currently an Associate Professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science where he has served as the Director of the Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory (DIRS) since 2007. As Director of DIRS, David has done an excellent job leading the center to many accomplishments that brought national and international recognition to the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, the College of Science, and RIT. 

He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his B.S. in physics from Clarkson University. Before joining RIT, he worked as an analyst for XonTech Inc. and on the National Missile Defense Program for Northrop Grumman.

Dr. Messinger’s research focuses on remotely sensed spectral image exploitation using physics-based approaches and advanced mathematical techniques.  His research activity includes over 100 scholarly articles, and significant grants, national and international collaborations, editorial activities, and organizing of scientific expeditions. Dr. Messinger is an associate editor of the journal Optical Engineering, a member of the GEOINT R&D Working Group, a member of both the USGIF Activities Based Intelligence Working Group and the USGIF Academic Advisory Board, and serves on the Technical Committees of the “SPIE Conference on Algorithms and Technology for Multispectral, Hyperspectral, and Ultraspectral Imaging” and the “Department of Energy Conference on Data Analysis (CODA).”  

He has previously served as the Academic Advisor to the Remote Sensing Advisory Board for the Department of Homeland Security and has served on several program review boards for various government agencies and national laboratories. 

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Uncovering Hidden Text on a 500-Year-Old Map That Guided Columbus
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

Dr. Roger Easton featured

Sep. 15, 2014
Greg Miller
The 1491 Martellus map.

The 1491 Martellus map (click to enlarge).  Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Christopher Columbus probably used the map above as he planned his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. It represents much of what Europeans knew about geography on the verge discovering the New World, and it’s packed with text historians would love to read—if only the faded paint and five centuries of wear and tear hadn’t rendered most of it illegible.

But that’s about to change. A team of researchers is using a technique called multispectral imaging to uncover the hidden text. They scanned the map last month at Yale University and expect to start extracting readable text in the next few months, says Chet Van Duzer, an independent map scholar who’s leading the project, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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The map was made in or around 1491 by Henricus Martellus, a German cartographer working in Florence. It’s not known how many were made, but Yale owns the only surviving copy. It’s a big map, especially for its time: about 4 by 6.5 feet. “It’s a substantial map, meant to be hung on a wall,” Van Duzer said.

The Martellus map, in position for multispectral imaging.

The Martellus map during preparations for multispectral imaging.  Chet Van Duzer

The Martellus map is interesting for several historic reasons, Van Duzer says. One is it’s relevance to Columbus. “It’s extremely likely, just about unquestionable that Christopher Columbus saw this map or a very similar one made by the same cartographer, and that the map influenced his thinking about the world’s geography,” Van Duzer said.

There are several lines of evidence for this, Van Duzer says. Columbus sailed west from the Canary Islands hoping to find a new trade route to Asia. Writings by Columbus and his son suggest that he began searching for Japan in the region where it appears on the Martellus map, and that he expected to find the island running north to south, as it does on the Martellus map, but not on any other surviving map made before his voyage. (You can see Japan floating too far off the coast of Asia in the top right corner of Martellus’s map above).

Of course, what Columbus found instead was something Martellus hadn’t known about—the New World.

Martin Waldseemüller's 1507 map was influenced by Martellus's earlier map.

Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map was influenced by the earlier map by Martellus (click to enlarge).  Library of Congress

Martellus’s map was also a big influence on Martin Waldseemüller, another German cartographer whose 1507 map is the first to apply the name “America” to the New World. The Library of Congress purchased the only surviving copy of Waldseeüller’s map in 2003 for $10 million. “There are many places where the same information was in the same place on the two maps,” Van Duzer said. “The layout is very similar, a lot of the decorative elements are very similar.”

What isn’t known, because of the condition of the Martellus map, is how similar the text on the two maps is. “One of the most exciting images I’ve ever seen of a map is an ultraviolet image of the Martellus map taken in the early ’60s,” Van Duzer said. “If you look at eastern Asia with natural light, if you look closely, you get a hint that there’s text there, but if you look in ultraviolet light suddenly you see that there’s text everywhere.”

Most of the text still isn’t legible in those older UV images, but some of the parts that are appear to be drawn from the travels of Marco Polo through east Asia. There are also indications of where sailors could expect to find sea monsters or pearls. “In northern Asia, Martellus talks about this race of wild people who don’t have any wine or grain but live off the flesh of deer and ride deer-like horses,” Van Duzer said. Waldseeüller copied much of this.

A photo of the Martellus map taken in 1960 with ultraviolet light (right) reveals text in places where it's not normally visible (click to enlarge).

A photo of the Martellus map taken in 1960 with ultraviolet light (right) reveals text in places where it’s not normally visible (click to enlarge).  Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

There are also interesting differences between the two maps. Waldseeüller gets the shape of Africa more or less right, but on the Martellus map, southern Africa juts out way too far to the east (Africa is on the left side of both maps). In addition, Martellus’s depiction of rivers and mountains in the interior of southern Africa, along with place names there, appear to be based on African sources. It’s likely that this information came from an African delegation that visited the Council of Florence in 1441 and interacted with European geographers. Three other surviving maps contain some of this same information, but the Martellus map covers more territory than any of them, making it the most complete surviving representation of Africans’ geographic knowledge of their continent in the 15th century. “In my mind, that’s absolutely amazing,” Van Duzer said.

Van Duzer hopes to learn more about Martellus’s sources from the new images the team is creating. Scanning the map only took a day, after two and a half days of set up, he says. The team used an automated camera system developed by a digital imaging company called Megavision. The system uses LEDs to deliver light within a narrow band of wavelengths and minimize the amount of heat and light the map was exposed to. The camera has a quartz lens, which transmits ultraviolet light better than glass. The team photographed 55 overlapping tiles of the map, using 12 different types of illumination, ranging from ultraviolet to infrared.

Conceptually, the process isn’t very complicated, says team member Roger Easton, an expert on imaging historical manuscripts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “We’re really just looking at the object under different colors of light and trying to find the combination of images that best enhance whatever it is that we’re trying to see.”

But extracting legible text from all those images will take a lot of imaging processing and analysis, and a lot of trial and error, Easton says. A combination that works on one part of the map might be useless for another part. “It depends on the details of how the map has eroded or how the color of the pigments has changed,” Easton said. “Different pigments reflect different wavelengths of light, and they deteriorate differently too.”

When the project is complete, probably sometime next year, the images will be available for scholars and the general public to examine on the website of theBeinecke Digital Library at Yale.

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Original Source: Wired

Multispectral imaging used to reveal map’s secrets
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

Aug. 15, 2014
Amanda Buckingham

This week at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, from August 11-19, an interdisciplinary team is at work on a multispectral imaging project to facilitate the study of a 15th century world map by cartographer Henricus Martellus. The map likely influenced Christopher Columbus and is representative of his geographical views.

The map, which is typically on display to the left of the Beinecke’s service desk, has been relatively unexamined following a peak in interest after its acquisition in the 1960s because it is largely illegible. Efforts to image the map in the ‘60s using UV light revealed that the text could be recovered through such techniques, though it was not until the past decade that technology developed that could reveal all of its secrets.

“The map is a wonderful candidate for multispectral imaging,” the project’s principle investigator Chet Van Duzer said.

About 4 by 6.5 feet in scale, the map is sizable, spanning the Atlantic Ocean to Japan. It is also quite text rich in its Latin descriptions of lands and their human occupants. The paint employed in writing the Latin text has, however, faded to roughly the color of its background and the map itself has sustained wear.

Van Duzer said that the map is particularly interesting in that it depicts Japan with a North-South orientation, unlike any other surviving map at the time. He added that Ferdinand Columbus remarked that had his father not believed in this notion, Christopher Columbus would have found Japan, as opposed to discovering the New World.

The origins of the project date to 2010, during which Van Duzer studied new images of the map made using UV, infrared, and visible light. He noted striking similarities in content and text position to Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map, suggesting an “intimate” relationship between the two. Waldseemüller’s map, well-known in the 16th century, was the first to refer to the New World as ‘America.’

After speaking with a representative from the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Program, Van Duzer successfully applied for a grant to allow for images to be made for scholars’ further study.

Van Duzer is joined by MegaVision president Kenneth Boydston, head of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library Michael Phelps, multispectral imaging expert Roger Easton and Lazarus Project head Gregory Heyworth. This week, images have been taken at 12 different wavelengths of light, falling within the UV, ultraviolent, and infrared portions of the spectrum, which will subsequently be stitched together to form a coherent image.

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According to Heyworth, the team has divided the map into 55 overlapping regions, or tiles, that will be composed of 22 shots per tile. He said that the camera technology, which Boydston helped to design, is novel in its ability to focus across the entire spectrum of light. Laser focusing also allows for improved image quality at wrinkled parts of the map.

Van Duzer said that the team has already imaged the entire map once and is currently in the process of re-imaging in order to reduce the prospect of errors. He said that while the large size of the map was perceived to be a challenge, an upright easel has been useful in counteracting the problem.

The images are to be processed with the support of the Lazarus Project at the University of Mississippi, using algorithms designed to increase the resolution of the previously illegible text. Afterwards, they will be rendered into natural light, gray-scale, and false-color images for enhanced contrast viewing.

In conjunction with the Beinecke Digital Library, metadata will be assigned to the images taken in order to provide more information about the imaging conditions. The images will eventually become available through the Beinecke Digital Library website. Heyworth estimated that the process of developing versions of the map targeted for researchers would take about six months, with a small jpeg image ready much earlier.

“We try to take images that will be part of the historical record for many generations to come so that the object will not have to be reimaged and exposed,” Heyworth said.

Members of the imaging team are giving talks, which are open to the public, at the Beinecke this week about the various aspects of the project.

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Original Source: Yale Daily News

RIT Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science adds environmental imaging expert
Remote Sensing

Charles “Chip” Bachmann joins RIT from Naval Research Laboratory

Jan. 29, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz


A leader in the field of environmental imaging research has recently joined the Rochester Institute of Technology Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

Charles “Chip” Bachmann, the new Frederick and Anna B. Wiedman Professor in Imaging Science, comes to RIT with 23 years of experience as a civilian research scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

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Bachmann specializes in coastal remote sensing and image processing. He most recently headed the Naval Research Laboratory’s Coastal Science and Interpretation Section in the Coastal and Ocean Remote Sensing Branch. He has planned and executed campaigns to collect measurements of physical and optical properties in water and on land around the world.

He holds two patents, with a third pending, for software developed to synthesize aerial imagery and ground truth into physical models.

Bachmann’s research program at RIT will focus on developing digital models across different coastal types. His research will account for various types of sands and sediment found along coastlines and the effects of inundation of water and the drying process, among other dynamic variables.

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Original Source: RIT University News

Why is the sky blue? Visiting scientist explains natural optical phenomena, May 9

RIT’s SPIE/OSA Student Chapter hosts free event

May. 6, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz

The science behind natural optical phenomena—colors in the sky, rainbows, halos, coronas, iridescence, glories, glitter patterns and auroras—will be the topic of a free talk at Rochester Institute of Technology this week.


(Provided photo)

Joseph Shaw, professor of optics and photonics and electrical and computer engineering at Montana State University, will present “Optics in Nature: A photographic tour,” at 2 p.m. on May 9 in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science Auditorium. The event is hosted by the RIT International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE)/Optical Society of America (OSA) Student Chapter.

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Shaw, a fellow of SPIE and OSA, will use a combination of photographs and optical diagrams to illustrate examples of optical scattering, diffraction, refraction, reflection and emission for a general audience.

He develops optical remote sensing systems to study climate, weather and natural ecosystems. Shaw’s current research uses polarimetric and radiometric imaging and Lidar, or light detection and ranging, which uses laser pulses to measure distances.

For more information, contact the SPIE/OSA student chapter.

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Original Source: University News

Wanted: Scientists to operate complex imaging systems
Student Stories
Remote Sensing

The U.S. workforce is undergoing a generational shift as baby boomers near retirement age. The national defense and intelligence communities, in particular, stand to lose scientists and engineers with decades of experience in imaging systems that track environmental change, natural disasters, peacekeeping efforts and matters related to homeland security.

Mar. 24, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz



Matthew Montanaro ’05, ’09                                                Ariel Schlamm ’06, ’10

In an effort to put the issue on the national agenda, experts from RIT, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the imaging industry shared their concerns with Congressional representatives, aides and staff from the House Armed Services Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence late last year. U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, sponsored the briefing.

The RIT initiative drew upon a report written by the Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence in 2008 for the U.S. House of Representatives, which calls for workforce development in imaging science and remote sensing and partnerships with universities.

RIT President Bill Destler, Professor David Messinger and industry representatives who attended the Dec. 3 event emphasized the need to cultivate the next generation of scientists and engineers to develop, build and operate complex imaging systems.

The university presented itself as part of the solution and sought sustained funding to produce more Ph.D. students and research critical to the defense and intelligence communities.

“We feel that we can graduate more students every year out into the field with the science and technical background to understand the capabilities of an imaging system, what it can and can’t do and how to process the image to get the information you want out of it,” said Messinger, associate research professor and director of the Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

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Building relationships

Federal agencies looking to hire U.S. citizens to fill defense and intelligence positions are facing a workforce shortage and a knowledge gap, said Stefi Baum, professor and director of the Center for Imaging Science.

“The U.S. has not been good at training U.S. citizen Ph.D.s in the STEM fields, and for agencies doing security-related work, it’s a huge problem,” Baum said. “The U.S. has had 20 years of not producing scientists and engineers to feed into that and has been relying on people who are from the Sputnik era who are retiring. There’s a large awareness of that but exactly what to do about it hasn’t been well addressed.”

The Center for Imaging Science seeks to grow its remote sensing lab and its other related imaging laboratories through sustained relationships with the federal departments and agencies that routinely hire RIT graduates. Messinger and Baum envision targeted recruitment of imaging science graduates akin to Toyota’s formal courtship of RIT’s mechanical and automotive engineers.

Prior to the Congressional briefing, Destler and Messinger met with key members of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to discuss starting a formal relationship with RIT’s imaging science program. RIT Board of Trustee member Jeffrey Harris ’75 (photographic science and instrumentation), chairman of the Open Geospatial Consortium and a former director of the National Reconnaissance Office, acted as their primary contact with the agency.

Harris described his experience working with imaging science graduates while he served in both government and industry as “having the right skills on the team.”

“The STEM-educated, tech-savvy specialist—competent with imaging systems—is a valued member of the new integrated-information eco-system,” he said.

According to Messinger, 10 to 15 percent—or 13 RIT alumni, mostly with imaging science and photo technology degrees—“dominate” the NGA’s image science group. Team leader, retired U.S. Air Force Officer Michael Foster ’07 (imaging science), NGA Image Science Integration Lead in the Office of Sciences and Methodologies, earned his Ph.D. through an Air Force advanced education program that sends officers to study imaging science at RIT.

“Clearly, we’re doing something valuable because their human resources people are hiring our graduates for these critical positions,” Messinger said. “But there is no longer-term strategy.”

Center for Imaging Science

Messinger met in January with the head of human resources and other specialists to further explore a strategic relationship between the NGA and RIT, including on-site training for scientists at the agency. Discussion with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency remains ongoing.

“We hope to convince the NGA and other governmental agencies to generate a significant amount of funding to support five to 15 graduate students a year,” Messinger said.

The Center for Imaging Science graduates approximately 10 to 15 undergraduate and 20 master and doctoral students per year. The undergraduate program hovers between 40 and 50 students, while the graduate program claims 110 to 115 students.

“Even if we produce 20 Ph.D.s a year, that makes a big difference because one of these people with this kind of training can influence a large swath of the industry and federal capability,” Baum said. “The difference is in what they can do and in their multiplying effect. They can help train the others around them and provide this imaging-systems perspective that people trained in very specific aspects may not have.”

Imaging systems attached to planes or satellites juxtapose optical cameras side by side with infrared sensors to capture information beyond what the human eye can see. Some imaging scientists develop the instrumentation to collect data; others write the algorithms, or computer programs, that turn data into useful information by processing and interpreting imaging data and creating geospatially accurate maps.

“Typically, agencies will have to train physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists or engineers as much as they can in the imaging system,” Baum said.

“RIT brings everything together in an interdisciplinary way. It’s math, physics, engineering—and we produce a student who is an imaging scientist—and those people have a different level of understanding and knowledge of the end-to-end system of imaging—how to apply imaging systems, how to design them, commission them, do the program management for them, how to make sure that they’re going to get the imaging system that will attain the results they need.”

Adds Baum, “It’s not enough to take the end data and write an algorithm for it if you don’t understand how to develop the system that takes the data.”

Matthew Montanaro ’05, ’09 (physics, imaging science) came to imaging science with a physics background and appreciates the end-to-end perspective he has developed.

“Having my physics degree was a good base to have but my graduate project forced me to become familiar with engineering and computer science and technical writing,” said Montanaro, a Landsat calibration scientist who works for the Sigma Space Corp. as a contractor to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “It definitely made me more rounded in terms of technical skills that really allowed me to be desirable to an organization like NASA.”

The nuances of imaging science are a product of the education, he said.

“I think that having the imaging science background allows us to be sort of an interface between the engineers building the sensors and the scientists and analysts who use the data,” Montanaro said. “That’s very beneficial out in the workforce since it lets you see the big picture. You can see how all aspects of the imaging system tie together.”

Ariel Schlamm ’06, ’10 (imaging and photographic technology, imaging science) is a senior sensor systems engineer at the MITRE Corp., a federally funded research-and-development center in McLean, Va.

Schlamm applies her strong mathematical background to evaluating the quality of remotely sensed imagery and developing algorithms for extracting information from images. She attributes her imaging-science coursework to her easy transition from graduate student to team member “working on remote sensing technologies, with little or no time required for training and getting up to speed.”

Graduates from RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science have a good reputation for being able to “dive in quickly,” she said.

“In the defense community, when people find out you have a degree from RIT in imaging science, they immediately trust your abilities and understand what you can bring to a project,” Schlamm said. “Often those who work with us say they wish they could hire more graduates of CIS, but unfortunately there aren’t enough of us graduating each year.”

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Original Source: University News