Passenger Pigeon is a project/concept for collecting aerial imagery from passenger plane windows with handheld digital cameras. To make a map, just take photos out the window of your commercial flight. Then use the free and open source MapKnitter.org to align the images with a map as soon as you land.
Examples (click links for TMS/Geotiff downloads)
- Utah (shown below): http://publiclab.org/notes/eustatic/5-10-2012/hills-have-acne-passenger-pigeon-photos-drill-sites-out-west
- Manhattan/Brooklyn: https://mapknitter.org/map/view/newtown-creek-docsearls
Tips for photographers
- point the camera as straight downwards as possible
- hold the camera as stably as you can - brace it against the window
- try not to sit behind the wing, where the engine exhaust blurs the air
- take note of where the photos are, if you anticipate difficulty in placing them on a map later
- check flight-tracking websites ahead of time to plan when you'll be able to take good photos (possibly during landing or takeoff, if you're allowed to use your camera)
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Some Public Lab folks have done multispectral imaging from a plane window -- see the near-infrared camera page for details on how to collect/produce infrared imagery with less than $150 of equipment.