Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Satellite’s data collection will support warfighter

By Michael Kleiman, 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFMCNS) — Tactical Satellite-3’s scheduled October mission is set to demonstrate rapid data collection and transmission to the combatant commander in the theater of interest.

During Tactical Satellite-3’s upcoming flight, a new capability of employing a hyperspectral imager with a space-based, onboard processor to obtain and send images within minutes to the warfighter on the ground will be tested. Raytheon constructed the Advanced Responsive Tactically Effective Military Imaging Spectrometer, or ARTEMIS, hyperspectral imager.

Designated as the satellite’s main demonstration, the ARTEMIS hyperspectral imager payload will provide target detection and identification information, as well as battlefield preparation and combat assessment data, within 10 minutes of its collection.

“The ARTEMIS sensor can identify characteristics by seeing through camouflage and foliage,” said Thom Davis, TacSat-3 program manager. “It can also recognize physical characteristics such as oil and paint. It will also demonstrate its ability to provide real-time information to the warfighter via a text message or on a laptop computer. With the data supplied by the spacecraft, the commander in the theater of interest can determine if the object is something to be concerned about or a decoy.”

A second payload -- the Office of Naval Research’s satellite communications package – will employ sea-based buoys as data sites. The Satellite Communications Package experiment will collect information from the ocean equipment and transmit it to a ground station as another communicative tool to enhance the warfighter’s ability to stay ahead of an adversary.

The satellite’s third payload – Air Force Research Laboratory’s space avionics experiment -- will involve plug-and-play avionics, which features reprogrammable parts to link the payload and the satellite structure.

The TacSat-3 spacecraft is a pioneer of the emerging operationally responsive space program, and designed to meet the needs of U.S. forces for flexible, affordable and responsive satellite systems. The TacSat-3 program is a joint effort of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, Air Force Space Command, the Department of Defense's Operationally Responsive Space Office, the Office of Naval Research, and AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland AFB.

The October launch will occur at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.