Remote Monitoring of Ships via Infrared Multispectral Imagery

Period of Performance: 11/28/2000 - 05/31/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Spectral Sciences, Inc.
4 Fourth Avenue Array
Burlington, MA 01803
Principal Investigator


This proposal explores the utility of space-based thermal infrared (TIR) multispectral imagery (MSI) for detecting, monitoring and identifying ships in the littoral zone. MSI provides a remote, passive, and day/night capabilities, it can penetrate fog and haze, and it can detect subtle ship thermal signatures. Currently, ambiguities in separating temperature, material emissivity and atmospheric effects complicate the remote detection and identification of ships. To address this problem we propose developing new TIR atmospheric and sea surface properties retrieval and ship detection/identification algorithms, dubbed MASTS (Multispectral Algorithms for Ship Thermal Signatures). MASTS uses physics-based radiative-transport algorithms plus a representative library of ship parameters to enhance the information content of TIR images. It retrieves the upwelling ship surface radiance and gleans additional information about the target, including its shape, surface temperatures, and materials In Phase I, we will develop the basic MASTS algorithms and demonstrate their effectiveness using real littoral zone MSI data from the recently launched DOE Multispectral Thermal Imaging (MTI) satellite. In Phase II the algorithms will be refined, integrated into an analyst driven software package, and applied to analysis of additional data from MTI and from an airborne hyperspectral imager.The anticipated result is a software package, the MASTS tool kit, that incorporates new algorithms for retrieving ship temperatures and material emissivities, and performing ship detection/identification using aircraft and satellite-based TIR MSI data. MASTS will be applicable to TIR MSI sensor design applications in the Navy and other US Government agencies, and analysis of real data to be acquired from present and planned sensor systems. Other Government applications include surveillance in the littoral zone and open ocean, target detection and identification, technical intelligence. Commercial applications include littoral traffic monitoring/control, civilian law enforcement/surveillance, crop health monitoring, and mineral/natural resource detection.