Position: Research Leader, Remote Sensing. Field: Monitoring systems. Organisation: Landcare Research
Dr David Pairman’s initial bachelor’s degree was in electrical engineering (Canterbury University) where he developed a very early multispectral aerial camera using CCD (charged couple device) technology. This was used by the DSIR to experiment with the first digital capture of aerial remotely sensed imagery in New Zealand. In 1986, he was awarded his PhD for image processing in geophysics by Oxford University in England. While there David got to the real nuts and bolts of developing algorithms to better classify pixels and objects within remotely sensed imagery.
Since the early 1980s, CCD technology has become ubiquitous, not only in consumer level digital cameras, but also in specialist cameras for aerial photography and instruments on board satellites for monitoring and other surveillance of the earth. David’s knowledge and expertise in remote sensing hardware and software development led on to his work leading this field at Landcare Research.
Landcare Research’s satellite dish came from a discarded 1960’s era weather radar, but despite how ancient this dish might be, its potential to receive data was appreciated by David’s team who purchased it for $90. This concave dish was then modified at Landcare Research to receive images from the NOAA series of polar orbiting satellites. This is a typical Kiwi attitude of using the ‘number-8 fencing wire’ philosophy.
“Because of its age, this dish has a tendency to break down frequently!” says David.
This article is based on information current in 2010.