You may have heard about the "big data" problem: organizations have access to more sensor data than ever, but the sheer volume can be overwhelming. Even with all of the imagery available, it can be difficult to know exactly what is happening because images often lack sufficient information about the materials and processes involved. Image analysts can interpret imagery, but none can positively identify critical materials and processes evident in solids, liquids and gasses with visible imagery only.

Until now.

"Our material identification capabilities use hyperspectral imaging technology to detect, identify and geolocate the presence or likelihood of a variety of solids and gasses on the earth and in the atmosphere," said Dr. Minda Suchan, director of Harris' Integrated Processing Systems and Analysis business area. "Different materials reflect light differently, creating a unique spectral fingerprint for each. By flying over an area and looking for those spectral signatures, you can determine what materials or gasses are below."

Material identification has a number of applications. For instance, military or law enforcement agencies can use it to detect illegal activities, such as narcotics manufacturing; commercial companies can use it to identify natural resources or assess the environmental impact of various scenarios; and government agencies can use it when responding to disasters or to assess the extent of damage.

"Let's say a local law enforcement agency is trying to sniff out a meth lab. Our material identification capabilities could identify the telltale signatures such as methane gas and acetone, and pinpoint a lab's location in a neighborhood," explained Suchan.

Harris has streamlined the analysis process – what used to take days or weeks can now be completed in hours, enabling organizations to make higher-confidence decisions more quickly. In fact, Harris solutions play a significant part in nearly all of the U.S. Department of Defense's hyperspectral imaging programs.

"We provide solutions across the entire material identification chain – from collecting data using our airborne sensors, to processing that data, to analyzing and disseminating it using existing Harris capabilities such as GeoReplay®ENVI® and Jagwire™," Suchan added.