by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) Jun 21, 2011
A groundbreaking space sensor built by Raytheon has completed its second year on orbit, exceeding its design life by 100 percent. The Advanced Responsive, Tactically Effective Military Imaging Sensor was launched aboard the Air Force Research Laboratory's TacSat-3 in May 2009.
Originally slated for a one-year experimental mission, ARTEMIS performed so well that the U.S. Air Force Space Command took control of TacSat-3 for operational use in June 2010.
ARTEMIS is a hyperspectral sensing system, operating in the visible to shortwave infrared wavelengths. Hyperspectral sensors capture light across a wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum, providing unprecedented spectral detail. That spectral information produces a distinct "signature," which can be compared against the spectral signatures of known objects to rapidly identify potential areas of interest.
Since TacSat-3 operational acceptance, U.S. Air Force Space Command has improved the "sensor tasking to product dissemination" process for delivering actionable information to the warfighter. ARTEMIS produces approximately 100 hyperspectral imagery products per month, delivering key intelligence within hours after sensor tasking, 10 times faster than during the initial experimental phase.
"TacSat-3 has far exceeded expectations in both its superior imaging performance and in its operational service life," said Col. John Kress, Air Force Space Command, chief, Missile Warning, Missile Defense and Surveillance Operations. "The unique TacSat-3 hyperspectral imaging capability continues to provide valuable information to combatant commanders."
While ARTEMIS is focused on the visible and shortwave infrared bands, Raytheon is developing the next generation of hyperspectral systems, which will take advantage of the unique attributes of the bands of the infrared spectrum. Mid-wave IR hyperspectral sensors will be able to identify faint heat signatures from space, while long-wave IR sensors can be used to characterize effluents, such as factory plumes.
"Hyperspectral sensors allow us to detect the otherwise undetectable," said Bill Hart, vice president, Raytheon Space Systems. "Raytheon is discussing with several government customers the potential for deploying additional hyperspectral systems, either as a single, multiband system or a constellation of disaggregated capabilities."
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