The rapid development of space and computer technologies allows for the possibility to store huge amounts of remotely sensed image data, collected using airborne and satellite instruments. In particular, NASA is continuously gathering high-dimensional image data with Earth observing hyperspectral sensors such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's airborne visible–infrared imaging spectrometer (AVIRIS), which measures reflected radiation in hundreds of narrow spectral bands at different wavelength channels for the same area on the surface of the Earth. The development of fast techniques for transforming massive amounts of hyperspectral data into scientific understanding is critical for space-based Earth science and planetary exploration. Despite the growing interest in hyperspectral imaging research, only a few efforts have been devoted to the design of parallel implementations in the literature, and detailed comparisons of standardized parallel hyperspectral algorithms are currently unavailable. This paper compares several existing and new parallel processing techniques for pure and mixed-pixel classification in hyperspectral imagery. The distinction of pure versus mixed-pixel analysis is linked to the considered application domain, and results from the very rich spectral information available from hyperspectral instruments. In some cases, such information allows image analysts to overcome the constraints imposed by limited spatial resolution. In most cases, however, the spectral bands collected by hyperspectral instruments have high statistical correlation, and efficient parallel techniques are required to reduce the dimensionality of the data while retaining the spectral information that allows for the separation of the classes. In order to address this issue, this paper also develops a new parallel feature extraction algorithm that integrates the spatial and spectral information. The proposed technique is evaluated (from the viewpoint of both classification accuracy and parallel performance) and compared with other parallel techniques for dimensionality reduction and classification in the context of three representative application case studies: urban characterization, land-cover classification in agriculture, and mapping of geological features, using AVIRIS data sets with detailed ground-truth. Parallel performance is assessed using Thunderhead, a massively parallel Beowulf cluster at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The detailed cross-validation of parallel algorithms conducted in this work may specifically help image analysts in selection of parallel algorithms for specific applications. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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