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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

NASA and U.S. Forest Service Test New Wildfire Imaging Technology

via PRNewswire

The Altair is commanded and controlled through satellite communications. The satellite link will allow real-time data transfer of fire imagery to virtually anywhere on Earth. Mission data will be sent from the unmanned aerial system to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise , Idaho, and then distributed immediately to deployed fire fighters.

A NASA sensor system will fly on the Altair for the first time. This sensor was built to observe fires and other high-temperature sources. It can discriminate temperature differences from less than one-half to approximately 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperature-discrimination capabilities are important to improving fire mapping.

Another new technology application being tested during the flights is the Collaborative Decision Environment, originally developed by NASA for the Mars Exploration Rover. It is an interactive tool that will allow sharing vast amounts of mission information during flights. The multitude of tools this technology provides can be shared and visualized by members of the mission team for effective planning and acquisition of imagery over critical fire events.

The Flight Management Team from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., is responsible for the aircraft elements during this mission. Pilots from General Atomic Aeronautical Systems will remotely operate the aerial system. NASA sponsorship is provided by the Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

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