The US military is considering a technology capable of detecting and mapping tiny temperature differentials from space to assist soldiers deployed in hot weather environments.
Hydrosat CEO Pieter Fossel told Breaking Defense that the military is primarily interested in the technology’s “temperature anomaly applications,” awarding three Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts to the geospatial data startup.
As part of the $800,000 in SBIR contracts, Hydrosat demonstrated the capabilities of its infrared (IR) camera flying on a stratospheric balloon, mapping where dry ground is likely to imperil Air Force Special Operations helicopter pilots attempting to land.
“If you have really dry, loose soil, a helicopter’s going to come in, kick up dust, and then that’s going to have operational implications,” Fossel explained. “So that contract was focused on using our infrared satellite data and analytics to help address that problem, and help better assess landing zones in the planning phases of an operation.”
Hydrosat’s heat signature detector can differentiate a temperature differential of 0.5 degrees Kelvin, enabling easy detection of ships running “dark” or a column of tanks moving at night. Fossel said the system is more efficient at night since the ground cools and hot things show up brighter.
Fossel explained that identifying these temperature differentials is essential for the military, particularly in preparing for the battlefield.