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Raytheon TacSat-3 Hyperspectral Sensor Can Sense Heat and Emissions From Space

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Raytheon TacSat-3 Hyperspectral Sensor Can Sense Heat and Emissions From Space

In May 2009, the Advanced Responsive Tactically Effective Military Imaging Sensor (ARTEMIS) was launched aboard the Air Force Research Laboratory’s TacSat-3.

It started out as an experimental one-year mission and has performed so well that the Air Force took control of the sensor last year.

Raytheon describes ARTEMIS as, “a hyperspectral sensing system, operating in the visible to shortwave infrared wavelengths.”

Basically, the sensor can detect various wavelengths of light. From those wavelengths, the sensor then produces a “signature” that can be compared to known signatures.

ARTEMIS is so advanced that the system can “distinguish between natural and artificial foliage and identify areas of disturbed earth indicating possible explosives placement.”

Hyperspectral Sensing System

This system is working so well, that Raytheon is planning a new hyperspectral sensing system that will detect heat and emissions.

In a recent press release, Raytheon stated that they are:

“…developing the next generation of hyperspectral systems, which will take advantage of the unique attributes of the bands of the infrared spectrum. Mid-wave IR hyperspectral sensors will be able to identify faint heat signatures from space, while long-wave IR sensors can be used to characterize effluents [emissions], such as factory plumes.”

Thus far, the Air Force is quite impressed.

Col. John Kress, Air Force Space Command, chief, Missile Warning, Missile Defense and Surveillance Operations said, “The unique TacSat-3 hyperspectral imaging capability continues to provide valuable information to combatant commanders.”

Not only is the company working on these mid-wave and long-wave sensors, they are also looking to combine multiple sensors in one system.

These multiband systems would allow for the verification or cross-referencing of various signatures. On its website, Raytheon Space Systems Vice President, Bill Hart, stated, “Multiband hyperspectral imaging brings a whole new range of capability to the warfighter.”

It seems that satellites with the capabilities to see the “invisible” are changing the face of warfare. Though these satellites are aimed at Earth, it is clear indication that warfare is quickly moving into Space.

Originally published on

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