NASA Spinoff

Modern Exploration of the Lewis and Clark Expedition

Partnership

altThe Lewis and Clark Geosystem is an online collection of private, state, local, and Federal data resources associated with the geography of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Data were compiled from key partners including NASA’s Stennis Space Center, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Montana, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and from a collection of Lewis and Clark scholars. It combines modern views of the landscape with historical aerial photography, cartography, and other geographical data resources and historical sources, including: The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Academy of Natural Science’s Lewis and Clark Herbarium, high-resolution copies of the American Philosophical Society’s primary-source Lewis and Clark Journals, The Library of Congress Lewis and Clark cartography collection, as well as artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution and other sources.

The Stennis contribution to the Lewis and Clark Geosystem consisted of providing access to a variety of different satellite resources. Most notably, the system employs comprehensive national land coverage from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, a key instrument aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. It also employs imagery from the Advanced Thermal and Land Applications Sensor remote sensing instrument flown on the Stennis Lear jet to show select campsites along the Lewis and Clark Trail, as well as Landsat 5 TM (Thematic Mapper) data and the highly accurate Landsat 7 ETM+ (Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus) coverage of the trail.

Stennis also worked with a Lewis and Clark historian, Dr. Robert Bergantino, and GCS Research LLC, a geospatial information technology firm based out of Missoula, Montana, that currently has a Space Act Agreement with the NASA center. GCS Research has done work as varied as producing imagery for secure airport management to watermarking of digital imagery and was the perfect fit for this historic endeavor.

At this time, The Lewis and Clark Geosystem also serves as a primary historical geospatial component of the Federal geospatial One-Stop (GOS II) Portal that makes geospatial information available to the public The geosystem was included during the launch ceremony for the earlier GOS I and was highlighted during the 2004 National Governors Association Conference in Washington, D.C. Similarly, Alex Philp, president of GCS Research, had the opportunity to discuss the creation, formation, and historical geospatial components of the Lewis and Clark Geosystem at the 2003 Geological Society of America Annual Conference in Seattle, where he was invited to present at the distinguished USGS-sponsored Pardee Symposium, hosted by Dr. Jim Tate, Science Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Interior.

Philp said of the project, “The Lewis and Clark geosystem was born out of shared vision between NASA and GCS Research regarding the significance of the Lewis and Clark geographical odyssey and the modern parallels to continued planetary exploration. Technically, the geosystem demonstrates the ability to share and combine NASA’s rich geospatial archives in distributed geospatial systems. Conceptually, the Lewis and Clark Geosystem helps us understand landscape change in terms of human exploration both in the present and future.”

Product Outcome

altThe Lewis and Clark Geosystem, managed by GCS Research, is intended for educational and research purposes, and its primary goal is to provide a Web-based geospatial system wherein concepts of historical landscape change can be explored on an interactive map.

The geosystem provides multiscale and multitemporal examination of the Lewis and Clark Trail’s geography. The purpose is twofold. It provides a way to view historical landscape change and a way to examine the networking of a variety of geospatial data sources. Covering 200 years of change, it presents a variety of spatial data—historical, ecological, climatological—in a way that allows for examination of historical landscape change as a result of anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic effects. It also explores the deployment and networking of a variety of geospatial Web services, each of which provides unique geospatial data types of interest to the study of the trail’s geography, representing significant, cumulative advancements in geospatial information technology.