Spatial Analysis Facilities

Lab Description

 The Desert Research Institute is a recog­nized leader in combining geographic informa­tion systems (GIS) and remote sensing to ad­dress biological, ecological and hydrological problems both nationally and internationally. A large number of DRI investigators use aero­space remote sensing and GIS to map, monitor, and model earth surface processes in a diverse range of applications including hydrology, air quality studies, ecosystem and human health, and agricultural productivity.

The spatial analysis facilities at DRI are equipped with a wide range of hardware and software tools for addressing these applications and data from satellite, manned and unmanned aircraft as well as ground based remote sensing data. Computations are conducted on a wide variety of x86-based systems, which range from large shared/distributed memory systems down to the desktop workstation. DRI has approximately 100 Terabytes that are currently in use by the Spatial Analysis Facilities. Critical data is backed up to tape and disk as needed. Scientists also make use of a wide variety of high resolution printers and plotters. DRI main­tains a system-wide license of ESRI GIS software packages, including ArcGIS, ArcPro and extensions, ArcOnline, ArcServer, and other ESRI products and databases. DRI maintains a system-wide license of L3Harris Geospatial image processing and programming software packages, including ENVI, IDL, Noesys, and VIP.  Global Mapper and MAT­LAB are also available at the Institute.  DRI has a system-wide license of AgiSoft Metashape software for development of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) photogrammetric processing and image analysis techniques, as well as 3D spatial model generation.

DRI has several hardware capabilities for acquiring spatial and spectral ground-based data. GPS hardware includes: Trimble real-time differential map-grade global positioning system (GPS) units; two survey-grade GPS units from Trimble and Ashtech; and many Garmin hand-held GPS systems. Two full range field spectrometers (PANalytical FieldSpec 3 Max and Field Spec Pro from Analytical Spectral Devices, Inc.) are available for performing detailed spectral analysis of field samples. Additionally DRI has two field spectrometers specifically designed for acquiring vegetation spectra, a UniSpec single channel and a UniSpec dual channel spectrometer (from PPSystems). A ground penetrating radar (GPR) system is available for subsurface remote sensing. The Institute has a Leica ScanStation 2 portable LiDAR system with associated Cyclone software for high resolution LiDAR model­ing, and a high resolution thermal imaging camera for detailed analysis of terrestrial thermal properties. DRI also has multispectral (ADC2 by Tetracam and Sequoia by MicaSense), color, and thermal digital cameras for deployment on one of several UAS platforms (single-rotor, quad-rotor and hex-rotor helicopters).

The Institute maintains an archive of over 5000 raster data sets from over 30 different imaging systems covering Nevada and selected study areas from five continents. DRI also maintains an archive of 10 meter digi­tal elevation model (DEM) data for the entire conterminous United States.

DRI maintains a teaching laboratory where university level classes and hands-on short courses in image processing, remote sensing, and GIS are taught using industry standard software packages such as ArcGIS, ArcPro, and ENVI.


Tim Minor, M.S.
Lab Director 


Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512


Earth & Ecosystem Sciences