Space sensor will help uncover insurgent activity

Hyperspectral imager will deliver real-time surveillance data

The Air Force is getting ready to deploy a hyperspectral imaging sensor in space that will boost the amount of real-time tactical surveillance data available to battlefield commanders.

The Advanced Responsive Tactically Effective Military Imaging Spectrometer, or ARTEMIS, designed and built by Raytheon Co., has just completed a one-year experimental mission aboard the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Tactical Satellite-3, Raytheon officials said June 10 in a statement.

The Air Force Space Command has notified Raytheon that it will take control of TacSat-3 following the completion of the testing and will begin using ARTEMIS “as soon as possible” in an operational capacity. A specific date for when that would occur was not provided in the announcement.

The hyperspectral imaging sensor will give commanders an important new tool in countering insurgents. “ARTEMIS can detect various man-made and natural materials, which adds a fundamentally new capability" for the Defense Department, said Bill Hart, vice president of Raytheon Space Systems.

Unlike visible imagers, hyperspectral sensors capture light across a wide swath of electromagnetic spectrum, thus providing rich spectral detail. That information produces a distinct signature, which technicians can compare against the spectral signatures of known objects to rapidly identify potential areas of interest.

The ARTEMIS hyperspectral imager combines spectral information with geo-location coordinates on a briefing map. The map is then sent directly to troops on the ground to provide immediate intelligence.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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