A multispectral imager built by system manufacturer FluxData (Rochester, NY, USA) was launched into space aboard the Japanese HTV-2 mission, heading to the International Space Station (ISS), on Jan. 22, 2011. In the upcoming months after arrival, the FluxData imager, a key component of the International Space Station Agricultural Camera (ISSAC), will be installed in the Window Observation Research Facility (WORF) by the crew onboard the ISS. ISSAC was developed by students and faculty of the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, ND, in support of their Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium (UMAC) research efforts. ISSAC will take frequent multispectral images of vegetation areas on the Earth, specifically focusing on the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States.
The imaging sensor assembly of ISSAC is based on FluxData's FD-1665 three-CCD multispectral camera technology. The system's green, red, and near-infrared (NIR) spectral response bands were selected to emulate those of the Landsat 7 satellite and provide many of the same benefits for vegetation and moisture discrimination, monitoring, and identification.
Through UND's campus-based operations center, ISSAC will provide end users the ability to select geographical areas of interest and request imagery that will be downlinked, processed, and delivered within one to two days. The data ISSAC provides will be used for activities such as nitrogen application maps to improve fertilizer use, agriculture management zone decision support systems to improve nutrient and invasive species management, and rangeland management tools to improve livestock allocation and evaluation. The ISSAC imagery may also aid in disaster management, flood monitoring, and wildland fire mapping.
"Substantial improvements were made to the system's optical and mechanical design to withstand the environmental rigors of a payload launch and environmental conditions in the space station. This involved designing the overall ISSAC system to meet the tough NASA requirements for in-station safety, electromagnetic interference, shock, and vibration. The results of these improvements are being incorporated across FluxData's product lines for the benefit of other markets and applications," says Lawrence Taplin, CTO of FluxData.
According to Doug Olsen, project manager for ISSAC at UND, "The FluxData design incorporates subcomponents that can be changed by the crew, which greatly increases the overall robustness and reliability of the system. We look forward to getting the first images from space."
Additional information regarding the ISSAC program can be accessed at the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium web site.
SOURCE: FluxData Inc.
-- Posted by Vision Systems Design