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Tag: terrain
  • Automated Detection of Austere Entry Landing Zones: A “GRAIL Tools” Validation Assessment

    Abstract: The Geospatial Remote Assessment for Ingress Locations (GRAIL) Tools software is a geospatial product developed to locate austere entry landing zones (LZs) for military aircraft. Using spatial datasets like land classification and slope, along with predefined LZ geometry specifications, GRAIL Tools generates binary suitability filters that distinguish between suitable and unsuitable terrain. GRAIL Tools combines input suitability filters, searches for LZs at user‐defined orientations, and plots results. To refine GRAIL Tools, we: (a) verified software output; (b) conducted validation assessments using five unpaved LZ sites; and (c) assessed input dataset resolution on outcomes using 30 and 1‐m datasets. The software was verified and validated in California and the Baltics, and all five LZs were correctly identified in either the 30 or the 1‐m data. The 30‐m data provided numerous LZs for consideration, while the 1‐m data highlighted hazardous conditions undetected in the 30‐m data. Digital elevation model grid size affected results, as 1‐m data produced overestimated slope values. Resampling the data to 5 m resulted in more realistic slopes. Results indicate GRAIL Tools is an asset the military can use to rapidly assess terrain conditions.