Highly detailed images of Earth's surface are invaluable for studying and managing ecosystems and other natural resources. Satellite-based sensors can detect early signs of drought, soil types prone to landslides, volcanic unrest that may precede eruptions, and changes in the health and extent of coral reefs. Forest and agricultural managers can make use of timely, high-resolution images from space in responding to fires, the effects of invasive species, and other ecosystem threats. The imagery also helps scientists analyze climate variability and longer-term climate change.
HYspIRI will employ a hyper-spectral imager and a thermal infrared scanner to monitor a variety of ecological and geological features at a wide range of wavelengths. The system will take advantage of recent advances in detectors, optics, and electronics to provide global coverage every 30 days at a resolution of 45 meters. Both instruments would be printable, to allow for frequent high-resolution sampling of volcanic activity, wildfires, droughts, and other critical events. The system would also map surface rock and soil composition, in many cases with a quality close to that provided by laboratory X-ray diffraction analysis. These data would benefit exploration for natural resources as well as environmental remediation activities.