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  • ISSAC Captures First Images
Jun 2011
ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 29, 2011 — The multispectral imager ISSAC (International Space Station Agricultural Camera) successfully captured its first high-resolution image from space, imaging the western coast of Florida on June 10 from 250 miles above the Earth.

The imaging sensor assembly of ISSAC is based on multispectral camera technology made by FluxData Inc. The system’s green, red and near-IR spectral response bands were selected to emulate those of the Landsat 7 satellite and to provide many of the same benefits for vegetation and moisture discrimination, monitoring and identification. The remote imager was launched into space aboard the Japanese HTV-2 mission in January.

The first image acquired by the International Space Station Agricultural Camera (ISSAC) was taken of Charlotte Harbor in Florida about 8 min before sunrise. The sensor’s three spectral bands were combined into a false-color composite image in which vegetation is shown in red. The ISSAC image is overlaid onto a background Landsat image acquired about a month earlier and shown in true color. (Image: Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium)

Through the University of North Dakota’s Imagery Request & Information System (IRIS), ISSAC will provide end users with the ability to use the Google Earth browser plug-in to select specific geographical areas of interest and request the collection of imagery that will be downlinked, processed and delivered within two days. The data and information will be used for a wide range of activities, including 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.

“This is a successful culmination of a decade-long program,” said the university’s Doug Olsen, project manager for ISSAC. “FluxData provided an upgraded sensor to [the university’s] specification that can image the Earth with significantly higher resolution than its predecessor. In fact, the system is capable of producing images on par with NASA’s Landsat satellites and is useful for not only farmers and agriculture producers, but can be applied to rapid-response imaging of natural disasters.”

ISSAC is mounted in the Destiny module inside the space station’s Window Observation Research Facility. The system can perform high-temporal imaging, which has the potential to dramatically increase temporal opportunities to obtain cloud-free images at spatial resolutions and wavelengths applicable to end-user analysis of in-field variability and vegetative conditions. ISSAC is expected to image for three growing seasons for farming applications as well as to cater to a number of research partners conducting studies of glaciers, grasslands and other topics.

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