Is the end in sight for ‘friendly fire’?

Part of a winning military strategy relies not only on informed tactical planning, but also on battlefield commanders who can quickly collect detailed information about the battlefield.

Such information is invariably collected from an elevated vantage point and researchers at the US Air Force Research Laboratory believe they are in a position to utilise space as the ultimate aerial strategic advantage using MightySat 11.1.

‘Our MightySat II.1’s hyper-spectral imaging instrument is a satellite-based technology that uses hundreds of very narrow wavelength bands to ‘see’ reflected energy from objects on the ground,’ said Dr. Tom Caudill of AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

‘This energy appears in the form of ‘spectral fingerprints’ across the light spectrum and enables us to collect much more detailed data and produce a much higher spectral resolution of a scene than possible using other remote sensing technologies,’ he added.

Algorithms are used to differentiate between various natural and manmade substances once a fingerprint is detected.

Image processing equipment then portrays the various types of terrain and objects upon it in different colours forming a ‘colour cube,’ each based on the wavelength of the reflected energy captured by the image.

These colours are subsequently ‘translated’ into maps that correspond to certain types of material or objects to detect or identify military targets.

Algorithms can, say researchers at AFRL, also categorise types of terrain and vegetation – said to be useful in anti-narcotic operations – for detecting features such as disturbed soil, stressed vegetation, and whether the ground will support the movement of military vehicles.

Once this technology is mature, theatre commanders will, say researchers, be able to use mobile ground stations to process the satellite driven information in real-time.