An automated, open-source pipeline for mass production of digital elevation models (DEMs) from very-high-resolution commercial stereo satellite imagery


We adapted the automated, open source NASA Ames Stereo Pipeline (ASP) to generate digital elevation models (DEMs) and orthoimages from very-high-resolution (VHR) commercial imagery of the Earth. These modifications include support for rigorous and rational polynomial coefficient (RPC) sensor models, sensor geometry correction, bundle adjustment, point cloud co-registration, and significant improvements to the ASP code base. We outline a processing workflow for ∼0.5 m ground sample distance (GSD) DigitalGlobe WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 along-track stereo image data, with an overview of ASP capabilities, an evaluation of ASP correlator options, benchmark test results, and two case studies of DEM accuracy. Output DEM products are posted at ∼2 m with direct geolocation accuracy of { extless}5.0 m CE90/LE90. An automated iterative closest-point (ICP) co-registration tool reduces absolute vertical and horizontal error to { extless}0.5 m where appropriate ground-control data are available, with observed standard deviation of ∼0.1–0.5 m for overlapping, co-registered DEMs (n = 14, 17). While ASP can be used to process individual stereo pairs on a local workstation, the methods presented here were developed for large-scale batch processing in a high-performance computing environment. We are leveraging these resources to produce dense time series and regional mosaics for the Earth’s polar regions.

ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing