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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

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- NASA and the U.S. Forest Service are testing space agency-developed technologies to improve wildfire imaging and mapping capabilities.

From Aug. 29 to Sept. 19 , NASA will perform flight tests of its unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft. These tests will demonstrate the mobility, imaging and real-time communications capabilities of NASA's unmanned aerial systems. Results of the tests will also be used to validate data from NASA's Aqua satellite.

"These tests will be a ground-breaking effort to expand the use of unmanned aerial systems in providing real-time images in an actual disaster event," said Vincent Ambrosia , principal investigator of the Western States Unmanned Aerial System Fire Mission at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. "This is a prime example of NASA science and technology being used to solve real-world problems."

An Altair unmanned aerial system is scheduled to fly a series of four or five missions over the Western United States . The system is built and operatedby General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., San Diego . The Altair will collect detailed thermal-infrared imagery of wildfires. These tests will demonstrate the ability of unmanned aerial systems to continuously collect data for 20 to 24 hours.

"The success of these tests will help to refine the future direction of fire mapping for the wildfire management agencies," said Everett Hinkley , liaison and special projects group leader for the U.S. Forest Service , Salt Lake City .

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