UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Every object in the universe above negative 459 degrees Fahrenheit emits a unique heat signature in the form of infrared light, or longwave radiation. Scientists use remote sensing to capture these measurements and identify objects, and now a Penn State-led research team is further developing these techniques to better identify infrared signals.
Nittany Radiance is a government-sponsored, Penn State-led data collection campaign that aims to better classify and characterize objects using hyperspectral longwave remote sensing. Hyperspectral imaging captures wavelengths and divides them into tens or hundreds of smaller bands, unlike conventional imaging that focuses on three bands — red, green and blue — or in the case of multispectral remote sensing, about a dozen. The researchers used Harris Corporation’s "Blue Heron," a high-resolution instrument that divided the wavelength into 256 bands about one-fifth the thickness of a human hair.
“We’re looking at it with such a high resolution, each pixel will be able to tell us exactly what it is made of,” said Guido Cervone, associate professor of geoinformatics and associate director of the Institute for CyberScience at Penn State. “This is unique data, and it is very difficult in academia to obtain longwave hyperspectral data with such good resolution.”
Whereas traditional remote sensing analyzes one image at a fixed angle at one time, the Nittany Radiance researchers collected data from different angles. Using a combination of multiple scenes and machine learning algorithms, it should be possible to better classify objects, said Cervone.