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GGE News - 2009

UNB's CANSPACE 20th Anniversary Passes

The Canadian Space Geodesy Forum, or CANSPACE as it is commonly known, is the oldest and one of only a few e-mail-based news and discussion lists devoted to the timely circulation of information for those interested in the professional aspects of GPS and other space geodetic systems. Hosted by the University of New Brunswick, it was established in 1989 and has been in continuous operation ever since.

The first message, announcing the creation of CANSPACE, was sent on Saturday, 24 June 1989 at 16:36:43 ADT. It said, in part,


Yes, we shouted a lot in the early days of e-mail as some systems/keyboards only had access to upper case letters. And with the merging of computer networks to form the Internet in the early 1990s, CANSPACE became available to all.

Over 15,000 messages have been posted during the past 20 years. The list features daily postings of GPS satellite constellation status reports (Department of Defense Notice Advisories to Navstar Users) and reports of significant solar and geomagnetic field activity. Information concerning satellite launches is posted regularly. Questions from graduate students are asked and answered.

The CANSPACE subscriber list has grown from just a few Canadian geodesists and geophysicists in 1989 to over 1,000 individuals, with varied interests, throughout the world in 2009. Will the list be around 20 years from now? Only time will tell.

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Dr. Petr Vaníček to Begin Second Term as an International Fellow

In 2008, Dr. Petr Vaníček won one of a few highly competitive Australian Research Council International Fellowship positions granted annually to non-Australian researchers. The position is tenable at the Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Western Australia, for a total of 6 months: 3 months in 2009 and 3 months in 2010. The success rate of winning one of these positions is low and we congratulate Dr. Vaníček on his success.

The topic of his research is the reconciliation of the geoid computed from an Australian-generated synthetic gravity field with the UNB-produced geoid computed from the same data. The geoid is the level surface that best matches mean sea level over the whole globe. It follows the perturbations in the gravity field caused by ore deposits and other factors and is important for not only understanding how the earth “works” but also for converting heights determined by GPS receivers into the more common mean sea level heights.

This direct comparison of geoids is a novel approach for testing the theory and numerical procedures coded in the geoid-evaluation software. The ultimate goal is to demonstrate that by using the UNB-formulated algorithm, a geoid can be computed to an accuracy of 1 centimetre – an accuracy not achieved by any other research team in the world.

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Anna Szostak-Chrzanowski Helps Organize Master's Program at the Technical University of Wroclaw

Adjunct professor Dr. Anna Szostak-Chrzanowski is a member of the committee at the Technical University of Wroclaw, Poland, creating a new interfaculty master's program called "Mining and Power." The program involves the Faculty of Geoengineering, Mining, and Geology and the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Power. Dr. Szostak-Chrzanowski is involved in preparation of the course program, which will start in September 2010 and which will be offered in English. She will be involved in teaching a graduate course and in supervising graduate theses in the program.

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Dr. Andrea Carneiro Becomes GGE Honorary Research Associate

GGE would like to welcome Andrea Flávia Tenório Carneiro as our newest honorary research associate. Andrea teaches land administration and cadastral systems in the Department of Cartographic Engineering at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) in Recife, Brazil, and for the last six years has been very involved in the GGE CIDA-funded project led by Dr. Marcelos Santos, involving the establishment of a new geospatial reference framework for Brazil – known as the PIGN project in Portuguese.

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GGE Represented at Women in Engineering Conference

Sophie-Rose Côté, a fourth-year Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering student, took part recently in the Society of Women Engineers 59th annual conference in Long Beach, California. The SWE 2009 conference, with the theme “Women Advancing the World of Technology,” brought together more than 6,000 women from around the world to share ideas about professional development, networking, outreach projects, technology and innovation, sustainable development, balancing a career with family, academia, leadership and management techniques, and challenges in adversity and diversity.

Professionals from major corporations such as Boeing, Raytheon, Proctor & Gamble, ExxonMobil, Kimberly-Clark, Agilante, BP, Chevron, and Northrup Grumman (among many others) attended and shared their experiences in the workplace and gave technical tours of plants and projects in the Long Beach area.

Collegiate groups from universities across North America were at the conference. Among them were: Rutgers University, Georgia Tech, Purdue University, Brown University, and the University of New Brunswick.

Four undergraduate engineering students represented UNB: Ashton Campbell, a fourth-year Civil Engineering student; Sophie-Rose Côté, a fourth-year Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering student; Cherie Delong, a fourth-year Civil Engineering student; and Brianna Turcotte, a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look at some of the conference participants, 28 KB.

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Yun Zhang Appointed to Journal Editorial Board

Professor Yun Zhang has been appointed to the editorial board of the International Journal of Image and Data Fusion, a new scholarly journal published by Taylor & Francis Group. The journal will provide a single source of information for all aspects of image and data fusion methodologies, developments, techniques, and applications. The first issue of the journal will be published in February 2010, with four issues per year. The Editor-in-Chief of the journal is Prof. Jixiang Zhang from the Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping. Experts in remote sensing data fusion from 12 countries serve as members on the editorial board.

The first editorial board meeting took place in Beijing on 13 September 2009 with Prof. Zhang in attendance.

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GGE Grad Student Success at Satellite Navigation Conference

Three UNB Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering graduate students received distinctions at The Institute of Navigation's Global Navigation Satellite Systems 2009 meeting held in Savannah, Georgia, this past week.

Simon Banville, a Ph.D. student working with Prof. Richard Langley, received a best paper award for his paper entitled “Improving Real-time Kinematic PPP with Instantaneous Cycle-slip Corrections.”

PPP, or precise point positioning, is a high-accuracy positioning technique used with navigation systems such as GPS. Up to now, PPP's use with moving platforms has been limited due to several problems including how to effectively deal with jumps in measurements called cycle slips. These occur, for example, when a vehicle goes under a bridge and loses lock on GPS satellite signals. Mr. Banville's work has gone a long way to solving this problem.

Two other students won all-expenses-paid sponsorships to attend the meeting based on the quality of their submitted papers. Yong-Won Ahn, a Ph.D. student mentored by Prof. Peter Dare and Dr. Don Kim, presented a paper entitled “Positioning Enhancement Based on a New Weighting Scheme to Solve an Ill-conditioned Case.” Landon Urquhart, a master's student advised by Prof. Marcelo Santos, presented a paper entitled “Atmospheric Pressure Loading and Its Effects on Precise Point Positioning.”

The ION GNSS meeting, which is held every year, is the world's preeminent gathering of researchers and manufacturers working in the field of satellite navigation. More than 350 papers in several parallel sessions were presented over three days to the more than 1200 GNSS engineers and scientists from industry, academia, and government agencies in attendance.

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Scanning of GGE's Archive of Technical Reports Completed

Since 1970, when it was known as the Department of Surveying Engineering, UNB's Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering (GGE) has issued almost 270 publications in its Technical Report series. The reports include internal research notes, contract reports, and reproductions of student research reports, theses, and dissertations.

The earliest reports were typewritten. In 1980, the department acquired its first word processor and, in 1984, its first Apple Macintosh computer, allowing easier text and graphics entry and revision of reports.

The reports were reproduced using xerography, solidly bound, and featured the distinctive cover page with the red band and department crest. Copies of the reports were distributed to a long list of subscribers and each report was sent to the National Library of Canada as well as UNB's own Engineering Library.

Beginning in 2002, subscribers had the option of receiving new reports on CD-ROM rather than, or in addition to, hardcopy format. By 2004, a decision had been made to make new reports available free-of-charge via download as PDF files. This custom continues to the present day and the technical reports are among the most frequently accessed documents on GGE's extensive web site.

But what about the couple of hundred reports that were issued before 2004? Many of these are still relevant, documenting the department's front-line research activities, and the department was regularly receiving requests for hard copies. So, a decision was made to scan all of the reports that were still in print (and for which an original copy could be readily found) and to issue each report as a PDF file.

Scanning was done in batches and the department is now proud to announce that scanning of the last batch of reports has been completed and all available reports can be downloaded from the GGE web site. The list of scanned reports includes many seminal works in geodesy and geomatics including some of the first non-military technical documents on the use of GPS.

Over 20 publications in the department's Lecture Note series have also been scanned into PDF files and these are likewise available from the GGE web site. Included is the venerable Guide to GPS Positioning, one of the first monographs on GPS.

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John McLaughlin Receives the Order of New Brunswick

Congratulations to GGE's John McLaughlin for receiving the Order of New Brunswick. The announcement was made by the Premier during the official New Brunswick Day celebration held in McAdam on Monday.

The honour was established in December 2000 to recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of New Brunswickers.

According to the official announcement, “John McLaughlin is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his dedication to post-secondary education, his lifelong efforts to improve public policy in the province, and his promotion of youth accomplishments and participation in the local community.”

For more information, go to

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John Hughes Clarke Awarded Canada Foundation for Innovation Grant

Congratulations to Dr. John Hughes Clarke who was recently awarded a Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) grant of $396,415.  The grant project is entitled “Chirped, Broad-band, Stabilized Multibeam Sonar for Ocean Mapping Research and Arctic Operations.” Dr. Hughes Clarke's grant was one of six CFI grants recently awarded to UNB for a total of $904,819.

The grant will support the acquisition of a chirped broad-band mid-frequency multibeam sonar and associated GPS-inertial positioning and oceanographic systems to develop a mid-depth (<1000m) coastal survey capability for engineering and Arctic science applications. This equipment will significantly enhance the ongoing swath sonar research program at the University of New Brunswick.

The Ocean Mapping Group at UNB, led by Dr. Hughes Clarke, has established itself as one of the world's leading research institutions specializing in the development of software tools and solutions for the integration, processing, and management of swath sonar survey systems. Multibeam sonars are acoustic seabed mapping systems that, when integrated with suitable high precision position, orientation, and sound speed, provide accurate and high resolution bathymetry and acoustic imagery of the seafloor.

The equipment and associated software tools developed by the Ocean Mapping Group will be used in particular in Canada's Arctic. By providing a lower frequency launch-based system, Canada stands to benefit from greater access to the Arctic seafloor.

Two of the largest issues in Canadian international policy today are the imminent requirement for Canada to submit her claim to the United Nations to establish the extent of her offshore lands in the Arctic and the geo-political questions surrounding the status of Canadian sovereignty in the North West Passage in light of the receding ice. Both of these issues require that Canada undertake vastly expanded ocean mapping initiatives in the Arctic.

The CFI grant awarded to Dr. Hughes Clarke will allow the Ocean Mapping Group to do the surveys needed to support government policy in the Arctic and to acquire new information to expand the database for Arctic science.

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Sue Nichols to be Part of an International Community-University Research Alliance Project

On June 30, 2009, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) announced an International Community-University Research Alliance (ICURA) project involving one current and one former UNB researcher. The project, called C-Change - Managing Adaptation to Coastal Change: Canada and the Caribbean, has two million dollars of funding over five years and was one of four successful proposals in a nation-wide competition with over 100 applications. One of five co-investigators from Canada, Sue Nichols will be responsible for liaising with communities on the Atlantic coast. Michael Sutherland, who received his Ph.D. from UNB in 2005 and now teaches at the University of the West Indies (UWI), is a co-investigator from the Carribean side.

This project examines coastal communities in the Caribbean region and Canada whose livelihoods will be most affected by rising sea levels and the associated storm surges, coastal erosion, etc. A multidisciplinary team, led by the University of Ottawa and UWI, will develop community awareness of the potential impacts and decision support tools for developing adaptation and mitigation strategies for sea-level rise in selected regional coastal communities. Partnerships will be forged between the coastal communities and university researchers in both regions and also between Canada and the Caribbean.

Click on the thumbnail image to get a better look at some of the project participants, 27 KB.

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Angus Hamilton Guest Speaker at the GSD Centenary Celebration

Prof. em. Angus Hamilton was a guest speaker at the Geodetic Survey Division (GSD) Centenary Celebration on April 20, 2009. He was one of four speakers who “reminisced candidly about the Geodetic Survey of the 40's, 50's, and 60's.” The GSD's primary role is to maintain the Canadian Spatial Reference System which provides reference values for latitude, longitude, height and gravity for Canada's evolving positioning and navigation activities.

For more information on the GSD's year-long celebration, go to

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GGE Researchers Team with German Space Agency to Monitor New GPS Signals

Researchers in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton have partnered with colleagues at the German Aerospace Center to study the signals transmitted by a recently launched GPS satellite known as space vehicle number 49.

The latest satellite to join the GPS constellation carries a demonstration payload for transmitting signals on a new frequency, which in combination with the current signals will allow civil users to better correct for the effects of the ionosphere. This frequency will be standard on a new kind of GPS satellite to be known as Block IIF. The U.S. Air Force's GPS Wing will start launching these new satellites as early as next year.

However, the new frequency had to be "claimed" for GPS before its registration with the International Telecommunication Union ran out this August. Under ITU rules, a satellite owner must start transmitting signals on an assigned frequency within seven years of filing an application or the frequency is lost. That's why the Air Force had to quickly modify one of the current generation of satellites to enable it to start transmitting on the new frequency before the time ran out.

The UNB team, led by Prof. Richard Langley, is using special GPS receiving equipment provided by the German Aerospace Center to investigate the new signals. The receivers at UNB together with those at other locations around the globe--including a 30-metre-diameter radio telescope in Germany--have already revealed some interesting features of the new signals. And, rather worrisome, they have noted a peculiar behaviour of the standard signals coming from the satellite--something that has prevented the new satellite from coming into general service despite the fact that it was launched almost two months ago. The analysis of the data may help to pinpoint the problem and help the GPS Wing to fix it.

A detailed article on the joint investigation will be published in the next issue of GPS World magazine.

(Preliminary reports on the reception of the new signals were published in GPS World's May issue and on the German Aerospace Center's web site.)

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New for 2009-2010! 3-Year Bachelor of Geomatics Program at UNB

Starting September 2009, a 3-year Bachelor of Geomatics degree will be offered by the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at the University of New Brunswick. This non-engineering degree program will be offered in addition to the current engineering degree. Students in this new program will be able to:

We are currently accepting applications for this September. For further information, contact Michelle Ryan via e-mail or by phone (506-453-4698).

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GGE Student Selected for NSERC's Summer Program in Japan

Simon Banville, a Ph.D. graduate student working with Prof. Richard Langley in the Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering on UNB's Fredericton campus, has received a Summer Program scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

NSERC's Summer Programs provide graduate students in science and engineering with a hands-on research experience and an introduction to a different culture, language, and university research system.

Mr. Banville will be spending two months at the Electronic Navigation Research Institute in the Chofu district of Tokyo researching the effects of the ionosphere on satellite navigation systems.

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Dr. David Dodd Joins Geodesy and Geomatics

The Department of Geodesy and Geomatics Engineering at the University of New Brunswick is very pleased to announce that hydrography expert Dr. David Dodd has joined the Department as a senior research associate. Dr. Dodd comes to us from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Hydrographic Science Program where he was director and assistant professor. He completed his B.Sc.E. in 1988 and his M.Sc.E. in 1994, both at UNB, and his Ph.D. at USM in 2007 under the supervision of Dr. Dave Wells. Dr. Dodd will be teaching our hydrographic courses, working with researchers here at UNB and with CARIS in Fredericton, and collaborating with industry and government departments both within Canada and internationally.

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GGE's Ocean Mapping Group and the Canadian Hydrographic Service Collaborate to Chart Canada's Future Arctic Deep-Sea Port

In the fall of 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced plans for an Arctic deep-sea port at a former mine site located at Nanisivik, on the northern coast of Baffin Island, Nunavut. The following summer, the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS), in collaboration with the Ocean Mapping Group (OMG), mapped the seabed near Nanisivik using the OMG research launch CSL Heron. The seabed mapping was part of a wider effort to investigate many uncharted areas in the Eastern Canadian Arctic and was a joint effort between the OMG, who provided the multibeam-equipped survey launch, and the CHS who provided the logistical support and a "home" for the Heron onboard the CCGS Henry Larsen, a Coast Guard icebreaker based out of St. John's, NL.

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2009 Student Technical Conference

The 2009 Student Technical Conference took place on March 25 and 26. There were 8 graduate and 21 undergraduate presentations. Thanks to McElhanney Geomatics and CIG New Brunswick Branch for their support of the paper competitions.

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Richard Langley Appointed to European Space Agency Panel

The European Space Agency (ESA) has appointed GGE professor Dr. Richard Langley to the newly established GNSS Scientific Advisory Group. GNSS, or global navigation satellite system, is the generic term applied to all satellite navigation systems, including the American Global Positioning System, GPS, and the Russian GLONASS system.

ESA, in concert with the European Commission, is developing a GNSS called Galileo. Two test satellites are already in orbit and the full constellation of 30 satellites is expected to be operational within the next few years.

The applications of Galileo will be many–just as with GPS–including navigation on land, in the air, and at sea. Galileo will also be used to accurately synchronize clocks used in communications systems and for time-stamping electronic trading of securities, for example. But there will also be many scientific applications of Galileo–from studying the Earth's atmosphere, with potential benefits to weather forecasting and climatology, to monitoring the displacements of landmasses due to the shifting of the Earth's tectonic plates with the often-devastating consequences of earthquakes and tsunamis.

Accordingly, ESA has assembled a panel of experts to advise it on how best to foster the scientific exploitation of Galileo. Meeting a couple of times each year, the panel will help ESA to set priorities and to select proposals for study by the scientific community. About a dozen panelists have been selected from academic and government research labs in various ESA member countries. Canada has a special relationship with ESA and accordingly, with his strong background in the application of GPS to atmospheric studies, Richard Langley was also appointed to the advisory group.

The inaugural meeting of the group took place at ESA's research centre in The Netherlands this past December.

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GGE Student Zhen Xiong Wins Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Award

Congratulations to Ph.D. student, Zhen Xiong, for receiving the prestigious John I. Davidson President's Award of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASRPS). Zhen and his co-author, Dr. Yun Zhang, won the award for their paper entitled “An Initial Study on Vehicle Information Extraction from Single Pass QuickBird Satellite Imagery,” published in Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing (PE&RS), Vol.74, Nov. 2008, pp. 1401-1411.

The paper describes the initial research result of a 5-year NSERC Discovery Grant awarded to Dr. Zhang aimed at the development of automatic technologies for moving target/object detection using a single set of very high resolution satellite imagery, such as that from the Ikonos, QuickBird, and GeoEye-1 satellites. This pioneering research is attempting to detect moving targets and extract moving information using single sets of satellite images. Algorithms and software developed by Zhen Xiong have achieved the level of finding vehicles on highways and calculating their moving directions and speeds, reaching a speed accuracy of ± 20 km/h using QuickBird imagery taken from 450 km above the ground and with a ground resolution of 0.7 m for Pan (black & white) and 2.8 m for MS (multispectral or colour) images.

We can use the technique to enhance the capacity of the currently used, ground-based traffic monitoring and vehicle counting techniques," said Dr. Zhang. "Satellite-based vehicle counting and speed measurement can provide traffic information anywhere within the large image area, whereas ground-based techniques can only collect information at selected points where the equipment is installed. Traffic monitoring and vehicle counting are important activities for departments of transportation, which use the information for transportation planning and traffic management."

Dr. Zhang points out that the technique can also be used to detect other moving targets, which may be of importance to national security and military operations.

Further research is still ongoing with the aim of finding moving targets in areas other than highways, improving the accuracy of the target detection and speed calculation, and increasing the degree of automation.

The presentation of the award will take place on Wednesday, March 11, at the Awards Luncheon during the ASPRS 2009 Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, which takes place from March 8 to 13, 2009. The award consists of an engraved pewter tankard and a cash award. Former recipients of the award include NASA scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center (

Founded in 1934, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) is a scientific association serving over 7,000 professional members around the world. The mission of ASPRS is to advance knowledge and improve understanding of the mapping sciences to promote the responsible applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and supporting technologies.

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Read the associated UNB news release.

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Anna Chrzanowski Appointed Professor with The Erasmus Mundus Minerals and Environmental Programme

Dr. Anna Szostak-Chrzanowski has been appointed a full professor in a consortium of European universities under the European master's degree program, the Erasmus Mundus Minerals and Environmental Programme (EMMEP). She will be offering graduate courses and supervising master's theses within the European Geotechnical and Environmental Engineering sections of the program.

EMMEP is a two-year master's program educating future managers and leaders in the minerals industry. It is taught at multiple locations and leads to a double master's of science degree in the field of minerals and environmental engineering. The program accepts 45 EU and 20 non-EU students per year.

Six highly rated European universities participate in the program. EMMEP is administered by Delft University of Technology, Holland. Other participating universities are RWTH (Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule), Aachen, Germany; University of Exeter, England; Helsinki University of Technology, Finland; Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland; and University of Miskolc, Hungary.

The program has strong industry support from more than 30 multinational companies.

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GGE Projects Highlighted in Centre for Property Studies Videos

Two GGE projects are highlighted in a series of videos created and produced by UNB's Centre for Property Studies. The videos were created to showcase New Brunswick's significant involvement in international development issues and programs.

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