The Stack Archive

Space data made available to developers for military use

Thu 7 Jul 2016

U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin is releasing infrared data from its Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) for the first time, making it available for developers investigating military and civilian applications.

The SBIRS was developed as a strategic missile warning system, but it also has uses across a variety of research and development projects thanks to its remote sensing capabilities.

According to a Lockheed release, the U.S. Air Force will now be able to benefit from the infrared information which will be fed into its data utilization laboratory based in Boulder, Colorado.

‘SBIRS uses powerful overhead sensors that collect and transmit significant amounts of infrared data,’ explained Lockheed vice president David Sheridan. ‘By giving researchers access to this data, our objective is for them to find new, innovative uses for improving situational awareness – whether it is for tactical military missions, natural disasters or even firefighting.’

Lt. Colonel Ross Johnston of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Centre, also commented that the Air Force has noted an increase in demand for remote sensing capacity over the last year, from military and intelligence bodies, as well as local authorities and academia.

‘In an effort to develop, test and transition new or enhanced capabilities, the data utilization lab will provide an opportunity for users, data consumers and third-party developers to access these sensor feeds – providing an open framework architecture to host new tools, algorithms and processing solutions,’ said Johnston.

Alongside government and industry groups, academic institutions such as the University of Colorado (CU) will work with the SBIRS data to support research. One CU project will look into the tracking and early prevention of forest fires and build a mechanism to inform critical decision during active fires.

‘The benefit of having public-private partnerships is that we can bring together different stakeholders, in addition to doing research, and understand how we can use data from space assets to solve societal issues,’ added CU associate dean for engineering research Scott Palo. ‘We can also provide opportunities for students, as well as small and medium-sized businesses, to connect with industry and government and develop a broader vision that we can all build upon.’

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