Workshop: Acqusition, Processing, and Analysis of Declassified CORONA Satellite Imagery

Friday August 25, 2017 – Sunday August 27, 2017 at Dartmouth College

This free workshop explores technical aspects and research applications of declassified, Cold War-era CORONA satellite imagery.  In operation from 1960-1972, the CORONA satellite program collected over 860,000 images across the entire globe, all of which are now publicly available through the USGS.  These extraordinary, high-resolution images preserve a unique picture of the world as it appeared a half-century ago, and have become a critical research tool in archaeology, environmental science, geography and other disciplines.  Despite the unrivaled value of CORONA for global-scale landscape reconstruction, technical challenges involved in correcting the extreme spatial distortions contained in raw imagery has long presented a hurdle to researchers.

This workshop, led by the directors of the CORONA Atlas ProjectProf. Jesse Casana (Dartmouth) and Prof. Jackson Cothren (University of Arkansas), will offer training in all aspects of using CORONA imagery.  From acquiring the best images, to correcting distortions using a powerful new online service called Sunspot, to stereo analysis and surface model generation, the workshop will provide participants with all the skills needed to unlock the hidden potential of CORONA imagery and to apply this resource in their own research.

The workshop is made possible through support from the American Council of Learned Societies and is hosted by the Spatial Archaeometry Lab (SPARCL) and Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College,  in collaboration with the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST) at the University of Arkansas.

Participants will be provided room and board. In order to apply, please send a one page statement of interest and a CV by July 15, 2017 to

Future workshops will be held at the University of Arkansas, and UCLA (Dates TBA).


Preliminary Workshop Schedule

Friday Afternoon, August 25th:

CORONA Imagery 101

  • History of the CORONA program
  • Unique strengths of CORONA imagery for research
  • Technical aspects of CORONA sensors and imagery
  • Acquiring CORONA images from USGS
  • Practicum #1: Selecting the best CORONA in EarthExplorer

Saturday, August 26th:

Correcting Distortions

  • Photogrammetry theory
  • Full-scene orthorectification using Sunspot
  • Assessing errors, troubleshooting, downloading results
  • Practicum #2: Orthorectification in Sunspot

Exploring the CORONA Atlas

  • Basic navigation, tools, and capabilties
  • Downloading and displaying NITFs
  • Integration with other geospatial data
  • Practicum #3: Working with CORONA imagery in ArcGIS and Q-GIS

CORONA in Stereo

  • Overview of possibilities and challenges
  • Approaches to stereo analysis
  • Practicum #4: Stereoscopic viewing of CORONA imagery

Sunday Morning, August 27th:

Analysis of CORONA imagery

  • DSM extraction from CORONA imagery
  • Practicum #5: DSM extraction from CORONA image segments in AgiSoft Photoscan
  • Individual research project consultations