What is the difference between aerial photography, aerial survey, aerial mapping, aerial photogrammetry and aerial acquisition?
It can be a bit confusing for a non-specialist to understand the subtle difference between the various technical terms used to describe the acquisition of photographs from an airborne platform. Let’s take a look at the most common terms used in the industry:
Aerial photography: Aerial photography is the action of taking photographs from an airborne platform such as aircraft, helicopter, kite, blimps or unmanned aerial vehicle. Vertical or oblique photographs can be captured depending on the application intended. In general, aerial photography is mainly used for visualisation and illustration purpose as measurements extracted are not accurate due to distortions.
Aerial survey: Aerial survey is a general term meaning the collection of information conducted from an airborne platform. Information can be collected from various remote-sensing sensors such as still and video cameras, thermal, multispectral and hyperspectral sensors, LiDAR and even by the best known sensor: our eyes.
Aerial photogrammetry: Aerial photogrammetry is the science of obtaining accurate geometric measurements using photographs taken from an aerial platform. It includes aerotriangulation, or block adjustment of up to 1000s of photographs using point of common detail and airborne GPS. Aerotriangulated stereo images is the 3D base product from which a number of 2D and 3D products are derived. Orthophotos are generated from overlapping vertical aerial photographs and processed to remove perspective and the effect of the terrain. Orthophotos are a fundamental base layer for GIS databases.
Aerial mapping: Aerial mapping is the making of planimetric maps, contours and features extracted from aerotriangulated aerial imagery.
Aerial acquisition: Aerial acquisition is the process of planning and coordinating flying missions, maintaining and operating airborne sensors and ensuring that all data is collected and organised for further processing.
I hope these short definitions will give you a better understanding of some of the various terms used in the aerial mapping industry and will be somewhat useful.