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25 August 2008 Zombie algorithms: a timesaving remote sensing systems engineering tool
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In modern horror fiction, zombies are generally undead corpses brought back from the dead by supernatural or scientific means, and are rarely under anyone's direct control. They typically have very limited intelligence, and hunger for the flesh of the living [1]. Typical spectroradiometric or hyperspectral instruments providess calibrated radiances for a number of remote sensing algorithms. The algorithms typically must meet specified latency and availability requirements while yielding products at the required quality. These systems, whether research, operational, or a hybrid, are typically cost constrained. Complexity of the algorithms can be high, and may evolve and mature over time as sensor characterization changes, product validation occurs, and areas of scientific basis improvement are identified and completed. This suggests the need for a systems engineering process for algorithm maintenance that is agile, cost efficient, repeatable, and predictable. Experience on remote sensing science data systems suggests the benefits of "plug-n-play" concepts of operation. The concept, while intuitively simple, can be challenging to implement in practice. The use of zombie algorithms-empty shells that outwardly resemble the form, fit, and function of a "complete" algorithm without the implemented theoretical basis-provides the ground systems advantages equivalent to those obtained by integrating sensor engineering models onto the spacecraft bus. Combined with a mature, repeatable process for incorporating the theoretical basis, or scientific core, into the "head" of the zombie algorithm, along with associated scripting and registration, provides an easy "on ramp" for the rapid and low-risk integration of scientific applications into operational systems.
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Philip E. Ardanuy, Dylan C. Powell, and Stephen Marley "Zombie algorithms: a timesaving remote sensing systems engineering tool", Proc. SPIE 7087, Remote Sensing System Engineering, 708709 (25 August 2008);

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