Hyperspectral remote sensing for wildfire monitoring

Late in 2011, HyVista Corporation started operations under a contract to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) to provide airborne surveillance and mapping of wildfires occurring within the State. The contract, in conjunction with Corporate Air, has been awarded for the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 summer fire seasons (approx Oct – March).

HyVista Corporation is using an augmented version of its HyMap airborne hyperspectral sensor to detect and map active fire fronts, post-fire hotspots and burnt areas. Near real time processing is carried out in the aircraft and transmitted to the HQ of the NSW RFS via a satellite communication network.

The airborne operations are conducted from one of Corporate Air’s Cessna Conquests which delivers fast transit to distant sites and an operation ceiling of around 30,000 ft. The aircraft is also fitted with forward looking IR and visible cameras to assist in fire targeting and to enhance the general situational awareness of the aircrew.

The scientific literature contains much discussion of using hyperspectral sensor for wildfire applications but HyVista Corporation believes this is the first time a hyperspectral sensor has been contracted to conduct long term operational work.