Georges Masson d'Autume

by Alain Baudoin

imageIt is with deep sadness that we have been informed of the death of Georges Masson d'Autume on 14 th of January 2006. He was an Honorary Member of ISPRS since 1976 and remembered as a great photogrammetrist who has contributed to major developments in aerial triangulation, DEM generation and space imagery modelling.

Georges Masson d'Autume was born in Cherbourg, France on 1st December 1916. He graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique (promotion 1935) and he began his career in the French Army at the Ecole d'Application d'Artillerie de Fontainebleau (Artillery Application School of Fontainebleau) during two years (1937-1939) and participated to the French Campaign in 1940. He was sent in 1941 to Dakar (Senegal) in the Service Géographique de l'AOF (Geographic Survey of the French Western Africa) and he discovered the interest of aerial photography (still unknown at this time in Africa) with pictures taken by the American Army and developed a dedicated method to use these images.

In 1945, as the Service Géographique de l'AOF became part of IGN, Georges Masson d'Autume joined the corps of Geographic Engineers. Back in France (metropolitan) in 1946 he spent a few months at Ecole Nationale des Sciences Géographiques (National School for Geographic Sciences) before being appointed at the Research Department of the Photogrammetry Service of IGN.

In 1948 he presented a new method of aerial triangulation at the SIP Congress in The Hague and until 1964 he worked on the theory of photogrammetry for improving its accuracy while compensating the different error sources. In parallel he developed new photogrammetric devices, as easy to use and as accurate as possible for medium scale mapping, such as the Stereoflex (constructed and marketed by SOM) and elaborated new efficient procedures presented at the Stockholm Congress in 1956 and used during many years by IGN, especially overseas. He was always aware of the new technologies and open-minded and when he discovered computer science he directly understood its potential for photogrammetry. Under his leadership IGN could then develop, test and operationally use all phases of analytical aerial triangulation techniques.

This work had been internationally acknowledged and he was elected President of Commision III of ISP for the 1960-1964 period.

Scientific councellor at the Headquarters, Logistics Director, then President of the Scientific and Technical Research Committee, he had always worked for IGN, continuing his researches in photogrammetry even after his retirement in October 1982.

He published many scientific papers, most of them in the Bulletin de la SFPT and in the ISPRS Archives but also in Photogrammetria or the Canadian Surveyor.

One can mention his researches on spline functions and their applications to photogrammetry (for DEM generation, data filtering, error modelling, bundle adjustment) presented at the Helsinki Congress in 1976 and on the new sensors and especially SPOT. As soon as 1978 he developed accurate geometric modelling to be used for image calibration and correction and new DEM generation techniques based on automatic correlation along quasi epipolar lines. His work will then be adapted for SPOT images processing.

In December 1982 he received the prestigious Laussedat Prize given by the French Academy of Sciences for his work in photogrammetry.

Georges Masson d'Autume was highly thought by his colleagues, in France and abroad, always available to explain and discuss his ideas and to encourage and help students or young researchers (I was lucky to be one of them in the eighties)

ISPRS has lost one of its older members and even if not very well known by the youngest Georges Masson d'Autume should be recognized as an outstanding researcher by our photogrammetry and remote sensing community

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