Experimental Space Sensor to Be Used in Counterinsurgency

By Stew Magnuson
A hyperspectral imager aboard an experimental spacecraft is being transitioned to operational use as Space Command seeks ways to make a more immediate impact on counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Air Force Space Command commander, said earlier this year that the service needs to make more of its assets available to troops on the ground who are fighting insurgents. 
Military remote sensing satellites have traditionally been used on the strategic level, and their capabilities not available to small units. Space Command announced today that the TacSat-3 spacecraft, which carries the advanced responsive tactically effective military imaging spectrometer, or ARTEMIS, will be upgraded from an experimental to an operational satellite.
Hyperspectral sensors, already used on some unmanned aerial vehicles, see variations in colors undetectable by the human eye. They can search for disturbed earth where an enemy has buried a roadside bomb, for example.
“ARTEMIS can detect various man-made and natural materials, which adds a fundamentally new capability for the DoD,” said Bill Hart, vice president for Raytheon Space Systems, which manufactures the sensor. 
The TacSat experimental satellites are designed to test technologies that can bring field commanders real-time tactical level intelligence. The Operationally Responsive Space Office and the Air Force Research Laboratory designed and operated the TacSat-3 spacecraft for one year before the decision was made to make its data available to field commanders.
The satellite “has demonstrated the utility of hyperspectral information to benefit soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines around the world,” said Peter Wegner, director of the Pentagon’s ORS Office, in a statement.
Read more about Space Command’s effort to make itself more relevant in counterinsurgency operations in the July issue of National Defense Magazine.

Topics: C4ISR, Sensors, Counterinsurgency, Space

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