Exelis tests sensor for detecting threatening substances

Exelis says it has successfully tested an airborne sensor system for detecting and identifying dangerous gases and substances on the ground.
By Richard Tomkins  |  May 14, 2014 at 3:43 PM
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ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 14 (UPI) -- An airborne multi-directional long-wave infrared hyperspectral sensor to detect and identify threatening substances and gases has been flight tested by Exelis.

The integrated LWIR HSI sensor and processing system gives information on gases and solids detected in real time, a capability which enables detection of improvised explosive devices or leaks from containers and pipelines.

"Customers are looking for reliable ways to locate and identify either naturally existing or man-made materials, some of which can be dangerous, illegal or items of interest that are not visible to traditional imaging cameras," said Dr. Minda Suchan, director of material identification at Exelis. "Using a LWIR HSI sensor would allow access to hard-to-reach areas and positively identify solids and gases critical to defense, civilian and commercial operations."

Exelis said LWIR sensors normally must be cooled to temperatures below freezing to have the sensitivity to detect and identify small amounts of gas released into the atmosphere but it has devised a method to overcome major cooling requirements.

"This opens up new uses for LWIR HSI systems, such as looking into denied areas, from high-altitude aircraft," Suchan said. "The LWIR HSI sensor development, along with real-time analytical processing, solves customer-identified hard problems and is a key part of the company's strategic focus on intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and analytics."

Exelis' sensors are housed in a gimbal that can be pointed in multiple directions to collect large areas of imagery. An onboard processing capability is being developed for rapid material identification.

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