Staring Wide Area Imager (StareWAI) for Disaster Response and Earth Science
An airborne imaging system, built around a two axis optical mount with a light weight scanning mirror which allows for flexible control of the various sensors viewing angle allowing us to control many sensor parameters including: 1) field of view, 2) scan patterns, and 3) dwell time, and which supports a variety of sensors including high resolution multi-band infrared cameras (the primary configuration and the main subject of this proposal), hyperspectral imagers, and Fourier transform spectrometers, is proposed. We believe such a system will be useful for a wide range of applications but for this proposal we will concentrate on wild fire research, fire mapping and detection, detection of small cooking fires associated with illegal crops hidden in forest lands ("narco-campfires"), and disaster response in general. The proposed system is designed to operate autonomously at altitudes from 3,000 to 30,000 feet. For our notional operational concept we will use an altitude of 23,000 feet. In persistent stare mode, the aircraft operating at this altitude will circle a flight path approximately 6 miles in diameter (similar to a typical holding pattern). In this scenario, the Staring Wide Area Imager will scan and 8 mile diameter area on the ground, the imagery from the two or three spectral bands will be analyzed in real time for fire detection, the resulting image maps will be orthorectified in real time, compressed, and sent to the ground across a standard data communication link. In this scenario the system will provide multi-spectral imagery of this entire area, approximately 50 square miles, once a minute, with virtually no delay. The result will resemble a moving weather map commonly used by the TV weather folks to inform people of coming rain. We intend to do the same thing, but with fire. In mapping mode the system will function as an across track scanner. In this mode, operating from the notional altitude of 23,000 feet the system will map over 2000 square miles per hour (assumes an aircraft speed of 200 knots). Please note that this is just an example and the other altitudes and speeds will also work. For fire science work, we propose to configure the system with three bands: LWIR (8 to 9 um), MWIR (4 - 5 um), and (funds permitting) a SWIR band around 1.6 um. Each of these sensors will have a 600 urad instantaneous field of view producing a ground sample distance of approximately 14 feet from our notional operating altitude of 23,000 feet. At this altitude the system will be capable of detecting a 6 inch by 6 inch 600 degree C fire. In addition to providing valuable detection and mapping information to the emergency responders we believe this ability to stare at a fire in motion will provide valuable information to fire science researchers and will lead to a better understanding of wildfire behavior in general.
Small Business Information at Submission:
1317 Skyway Drive Ypsilanti, MI 48197
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