Printer Friendly

NASA aerial drone collects disaster data.

A joint NASA-U.S. Forest Service program demonstrated the value of using an aerial drone to respond to disaster scenarios this summer when it flew a series of long-duration flights to map wildfires that plagued the western states.

Unmanned aerial vehicles saw some action gathering images in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2006. UAV proponents, who are pushing the Federal Aviation Administration to approve more domestic applications for the technology, have touted their benefits for disaster response.

NASA's Ikhana, a Predator B manufactured by General Atomics, and adapted for civil missions, flew its first operational missions from mid-August through September from Dryden Flight Research Center, Calif.


The first flight Aug. 16 captured images of California wildfires, including the Zaca Fire in Santa Barbara County. The aircraft's instruments collected data while flying more than 1,200 miles over a 10-hour period.

"The images from the flight demonstrated that this technology has a future in helping us fight wildland fires," said Zaca incident commander Mike Dietrich in a statement. "We could see little on the ground since the fire was generating a lot of smoke and burning in a very remote and inaccessible area. This technology captured images through the smoke and provided real time information on what the fire was doing," he added.

Its sensor payload collected thermal-infrared imagery of wildfires and demonstrated the ability of unmanned aircraft systems to collect data continuously and relay information back in real time to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. NASA planned on conducting similar missions lasting as long as 20 hours.

NASA's autonomous modular scanner sensor is currently configured to observe fires and other high-temperature sources. The scanner can detect temperature differences from less than one-half degree to approximately 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperature discrimination capabilities are important to improving fire mapping, NASA said.

While the demonstrations were called a technical success, the FAA took six months to grant licenses for the five flights.

Email your comments to
COPYRIGHT 2007 National Defense Industrial Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007, Gale Group. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:SECURITY BEAT: Homeland Defense Briefs
Comment:NASA aerial drone collects disaster data.(SECURITY BEAT: Homeland Defense Briefs)
Author:Magnuson, Stew
Publication:National Defense
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Previous Article:New ag-inspector mission proposed for border agents.
Next Article:Building miniature 'noses' to sniff explosives.

Related Articles
The worst part is, it's going to be at least two weeks before that whole mess of a fourth quarter is put in the proper context.
Dumping data: e-waste--yet another headache for government and corporations.
Grounded drones: civilian market for unmanned aircraft struggles to take flight.
Patrolling borders: Department of Homeland Security plans to fly mere Predator aircraft.
BOMA offers 12-step emergency preparedness plan.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters