Special Issue "ASTER 20th Anniversary"

A special issue of Remote Sensing (ISSN 2072-4292). This special issue belongs to the section "Remote Sensing in Geology, Geomorphology and Hydrology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Yasushi Yamaguchi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Nagoya University, D2-1 (510) Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8601 Japan
Interests: ASTER, Geologic remote sensing
Mr. Michael J. Abrams
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Dr., Pasadena CA 91109, U.S.A.
Tel. 818-354-0937
Interests: ASTER; Geologic Remote Sensing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Advanced Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) is a research facility instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft. We will soon celebrate the 20th anniversary of ASTER since its launch in December 1999. ASTER has been providing high spatial resolution multispectral data in the VNIR, SWIR and TIR regions, and along-track stereo data. Starting April 2016, ASTER data have been distributed to the public at no cost. Another important and the most popular data set is the ASTER Global DEM, which covers almost the entire land surface at 30 m grid size. ASTER data have been widely used in a variety of application areas such as land surface mapping and change detection, volcano and other natural hazard monitoring, and urban heat island monitoring. This special issue will cover topics including scientific achievements using ASTER data, calibration activities to ensure long-term consistency of ASTER data, applications to a wide range of disciplines, and commercial and operational uses. We also encourage the submission of papers on individual scientific results obtained by using ASTER data.

Prof. Yasushi Yamaguchi
Mr. Michael J. Abrams
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • ASTER
  • ASTER long-term calibration
  • Surface mapping by ASTER
  • Change detection by ASTER
  • ASTER GDEM

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Satellite ASTER Mineral Mapping the Provenance of the Loess Used by the Ming to Build their Earthen Great Wall
Remote Sens. 2020, 12(2), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12020270 - 14 Jan 2020
Abstract
The earthen border wall (Great Wall) built by the Ming is largely made of wind-blown loess. However, does the composition of this loess change along the length of the wall in response to variations in regional sediment transport pathways and impacting on the [...] Read more.
The earthen border wall (Great Wall) built by the Ming is largely made of wind-blown loess. However, does the composition of this loess change along the length of the wall in response to variations in regional sediment transport pathways and impacting on the wall’s erosional durability? To date, defining these sediment transport pathways has been a challenge because of the paucity of spatially-comprehensive, compositional information. Here, we show that satellite ASTER mineral maps, combined with field sample measurements along a 1200 km section of the Ming’s earthen wall, reveal both the compositional heterogeneity of loess as well as the complexity of the sediment transport pathways of individual loess components, including: (i) quartz sand from Cretaceous sandstones in the Gobi Desert; (ii) gypsum from evaporative lakes in the Tengger Desert; (iii) kaolinite from Devonian Molasse in the Qilian Shan; and (iv) chlorite and muscovite from meta-volcanic rocks exposed across the Alashan Block. Sediment transport pathways involve a combination of colluvial, aeolian and fluvial (ephemeral and permanent) processes shaped by the topography. ASTER enabled mapping of compositional gradients related to two pathways, namely: (i) quartz sand driven by aeolian saltation in concert with the Yellow River; and (ii) clay and fine silt travelling large distances (>500 km) by long-term wind suspension. The most intact section of wall is found along the Hexi Corridor, which is poor in quartz sand and rich in (kaolinitic) clay and fine-silt, driven by wind-shielding by the Alashan Block. We also found evidence that the Ming: (i) mined loess from close by the wall (<1 km); (ii) targeted loess richer in finer fractions; and (iii) routinely applied a Ca-rich additive (probably lime). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ASTER 20th Anniversary)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
ASTER Cloud Coverage Assessment and Mission Operations Analysis Using Terra/MODIS Cloud Mask Products
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(23), 2798; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11232798 - 26 Nov 2019
Abstract
Since the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument cannot detect clouds accurately for snow-covered or nighttime images due to a lack of spectral bands, Terra/MODIS cloud mask (MOD35) products have been alternatively used in cloud assessment for all ASTER images. [...] Read more.
Since the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument cannot detect clouds accurately for snow-covered or nighttime images due to a lack of spectral bands, Terra/MODIS cloud mask (MOD35) products have been alternatively used in cloud assessment for all ASTER images. In this study, we evaluated ASTER cloud mask images generated from MOD35 products and used them to analyze the mission operations of ASTER. In the evaluation, ASTER cloud mask images from different MOD35 versions (Collections 5, 6, and 6.1) showed a large discrepancy in low- or high-latitude areas, and the rate of ASTER scenes with a high uncertain-pixel rate (≥30%) showed to be 2.2% in daytime and 12.0% in nighttime. In the visual evaluation with ASTER browse images, about 2% of cloud mask images showed some problems such as mislabeling and artifacts. In the mission operations analysis, the cloud avoidance function implemented in the ASTER observation scheduler showed a decrease in the mean cloud coverage (MCC) and an increase in the rate of clear scenes by 10% to 15% in each. Although 19-year-old time-series of MCC in five areas showed weather-related fluctuations such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), they indicated a small percent reduction in MCC by enhancement of the cloud avoidance function in April 2012. The global means of the number of clear ASTER scenes were 15.7 and 6.6 scenes in daytime and nighttime, respectively, and those of the success rate were 33.3% and 40.4% in daytime and nighttime, respectively. These results are expected to contribute not only to the ASTER Project but also to other optical sensor projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ASTER 20th Anniversary)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Lunar Calibration for ASTER VNIR and TIR with Observations of the Moon in 2003 and 2017
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(22), 2712; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11222712 - 19 Nov 2019
Abstract
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), which is a multiband pushbroom sensor suite onboard Terra, has successfully provided valuable multiband images for approximately 20 years since Terra’s launch in 1999. Since the launch, sensitivity degradations in ASTER’s visible and near [...] Read more.
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), which is a multiband pushbroom sensor suite onboard Terra, has successfully provided valuable multiband images for approximately 20 years since Terra’s launch in 1999. Since the launch, sensitivity degradations in ASTER’s visible and near infrared (VNIR) and thermal infrared (TIR) bands have been monitored and corrected with various calibration methods. However, a unignorable discrepancy between different calibration methods has been confirmed for the VNIR bands that should be assessed with another reliable calibration method. In April 2003 and August 2017, ASTER observed the Moon (and deepspace) for conducting a radiometric calibration (called as lunar calibration), which can measure the temporal variation in the sensor sensitivity of the VNIR bands enough accurately (better than 1%). From the lunar calibration, 3–6% sensitivity degradations were confirmed in the VNIR bands from 2003 to 2017. Since the measured degradations from the other methods showed different trends from the lunar calibration, the lunar calibration suggests a further improvement is needed for the VNIR calibration. Sensitivity degradations in the TIR bands were also confirmed by monitoring the variation in the number of saturated pixels, which were qualitatively consistent with the onboard and vicarious calibrations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ASTER 20th Anniversary)
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Open AccessArticle
New Insights of Geomorphologic and Lithologic Features on Wudalianchi Volcanoes in the Northeastern China from the ASTER Multispectral Data
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(22), 2663; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11222663 - 14 Nov 2019
Abstract
Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) imaging system onboard NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s) Terra satellite is capable of measuring multispectral reflectance of the earth’s surface targets in visible and infrared (VNIR) to shortwave infrared (SWIR) (until 2006) as well [...] Read more.
Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) imaging system onboard NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s) Terra satellite is capable of measuring multispectral reflectance of the earth’s surface targets in visible and infrared (VNIR) to shortwave infrared (SWIR) (until 2006) as well as multispectral thermal infrared (TIR) regions. ASTER VNIR stereo imaging technique can provide high-resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) data. The DEMs data, three-dimensional (3D) perspective, and ratio images produced from the ASTER multispectral data are employed to analyze the geomorphologic and lithologic features of Wudalianchi volcanoes in the northeastern China. Our results indicate that the 14 major conical volcanic craters of Wudalianchi volcanoes are arranged as three sub-parallel zones, extending in a NE (Northeast) direction, which is similar to the direction of regional fault system based on the ASTER DEMs data. Among the 14 volcanic craters in Wudalianchi, the Laoheishan, and Huoshaoshan lavas flows, after the historic eruptions, pouring down from the crater, partially blocked the Baihe River, which forms the Five Large Connected Pools, known as the Wudalianchi Lake. Lithologic mapping shows that ASTER multispectral ratio imagery, particularly, the Lava Flow Index (LFI) (LFI = B10/B12) imagery, can clearly distinguish different lava flow units, and at least four stages of volcanic eruptions are revealed in the Wudalianchi Quaternary volcano cluster. Thus, ASTER multispectral TIR data can be used to determine relative dating of Quaternary volcanoes in the semi-arid region. Moreover, ASTER 3D perspective image can present an excellent view for tracking the flow directions of different lavas of Wudalianchi Holocene volcanoes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ASTER 20th Anniversary)
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Open AccessArticle
Global 15-Meter Mosaic Derived from Simulated True-Color ASTER Imagery
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(4), 441; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11040441 - 20 Feb 2019
Abstract
This work proposes a new methodology to build an Earth-wide mosaic using high-spatial resolution (15 m) Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) images in pseudo-true color. As ASTER originally misses a blue visible band, we have designed a cloud of [...] Read more.
This work proposes a new methodology to build an Earth-wide mosaic using high-spatial resolution (15 m) Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) images in pseudo-true color. As ASTER originally misses a blue visible band, we have designed a cloud of artificial neural networks to estimate the ASTER blue reflectance from Level-1 data acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the same satellite Terra platform. Next, the granules are radiometrically harmonized with a novel color-balancing method and seamlessly blended into a mosaic. We demonstrate that the proposed algorithms are robust enough to process several thousands of scenes acquired under very different temporal, spatial, and atmospheric conditions. Furthermore, the created mosaic fully preserves the ASTER fine structures across the various building steps. The proposed methodology and protocol are modular so that they can easily be adapted to similar sensors with enormous image libraries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ASTER 20th Anniversary)
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Open AccessArticle
Integration and Visualization of Mineralogical and Topographical Information Derived from ASTER and DEM Data
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(2), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11020162 - 16 Jan 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
This paper proposes a method of combining and visualizing multiple lithological indices derived from Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data and topographical information derived from digital elevation model (DEM) data in a single color image that can be easily interpreted [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a method of combining and visualizing multiple lithological indices derived from Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data and topographical information derived from digital elevation model (DEM) data in a single color image that can be easily interpreted from a geological point of view. For the purposes of mapping silicate rocks, carbonate rocks, and clay minerals in hydrothermal alteration zones, two new indices derived from ASTER thermal infrared emissivity data were developed to identify silicate rocks, and existing indices were adopted to indicate the distribution of carbonate rocks and the species and amounts of clay mineral. In addition, another new method was developed to visualize the topography from DEM data. The lithological indices and topographical information were integrated using the hue–saturation–value (HSV) color model. The resultant integrated image was evaluated by field survey and through comparison with the results of previous studies in the Cuprite and Goldfield areas, Nevada, USA. It was confirmed that the proposed method can be used to visualize geological information and that the resulting images can easily be interpreted from a geological point of view. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ASTER 20th Anniversary)
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Review

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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Twenty Years of ASTER Contributions to Lithologic Mapping and Mineral Exploration
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(11), 1394; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11111394 - 11 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer is one of five instruments operating on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Terra platform. Launched in 1999, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) has been acquiring optical data for 20 [...] Read more.
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer is one of five instruments operating on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Terra platform. Launched in 1999, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) has been acquiring optical data for 20 years. ASTER is a joint project between Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; and U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Numerous reports of geologic mapping and mineral exploration applications of ASTER data attest to the unique capabilities of the instrument. Until 2000, Landsat was the instrument of choice to provide surface composition information. Its scanners had two broadband short wave infrared (SWIR) bands and a single thermal infrared band. A single SWIR band amalgamated all diagnostic absorption features in the 2–2.5 micron wavelength region into a single band, providing no information on mineral composition. Clays, carbonates, and sulfates could only be detected as a single group. The single thermal infrared (TIR) band provided no information on silicate composition (felsic vs. mafic igneous rocks; quartz content of sedimentary rocks). Since 2000, all of these mineralogical distinctions, and more, could be accomplished due to ASTER’s unique, high spatial resolution multispectral bands: six in the SWIR and five in the TIR. The data have sufficient information to provide good results using the simplest techniques, like band ratios, or more sophisticated analyses, like machine learning. A robust archive of images facilitated use of the data for global exploration and mapping. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ASTER 20th Anniversary)
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Other

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Open AccessTechnical Note
Technical Methodology for ASTER Global Water Body Data Base
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(12), 1860; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10121860 - 22 Nov 2018
Abstract
A waterbody detection technique is an essential part of a digital elevation model (DEM) generation to delineate land–water boundaries and set flattened elevations. This paper describes the technical methodology for improving the initial tile-based waterbody data that are created during production of the [...] Read more.
A waterbody detection technique is an essential part of a digital elevation model (DEM) generation to delineate land–water boundaries and set flattened elevations. This paper describes the technical methodology for improving the initial tile-based waterbody data that are created during production of the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection radiometer (ASTER) GDEM, because without improvement such tile-based waterbodies data are not suitable for incorporating into the new ASTER GDEM Version 3. Waterbodies are classified into three categories: sea, lake, and river. For sea-waterbodies, the effect of sea ice is removed to better delineate sea shorelines in high latitude areas: sea ice prevents accurate delineation of sea shorelines. For lake-waterbodies, the major part of the processing is to set the unique elevation value for each lake using a mosaic image that covers the entire lake area. Rivers present a unique challenge, because their elevations gradually step down from upstream to downstream. Initially, visual inspection is required to separate rivers from lakes. A stepwise elevation assignment, with a step of one meter, is carried out by manual or automated methods, depending on the situation. The ASTER global water database (GWBD) product consists of a global set of 1° latitude-by-1° longitude tiles containing water body attribute and elevation data files in geographic latitude and longitude coordinates and with one arc second posting. Each tile contains 3601-by-3601 data points. All improved waterbody elevation data are incorporated into the ASTER GDEM to reflect the improved results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ASTER 20th Anniversary)
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