USU in $20M weather contest

NASA-commissioned research promises 'revolutionary upgrade'

By Emilie Holmes
The Standard-Examiner
June 26, 2004

LOGAN – Utah State University is teaming with BAE Systems, an international innovation company, in a competition for its research to be used in a state-of-the-art weather watching system.

USU's Space Dynamics Laboratory, BAE and two other scientific organizations have joined to use $20 million from NASA to conduct research on a Hyperspectral Environmental Suite.

USU's Ron Huppi says HES will "ultimately provide a revolutionary upgrade in our national weather monitoring and forecasting system."

The team has two years to conduct the research. NASA will then select which design will be built to fly on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, which are operated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency.

The two teams SDL is competing with -- ITT and Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation -- have also received $20 million each.

Huppi, who is the manager of SDL's Stewart Radiance Laboratory in Bedford, Mass. -- where the research will be done -- and the program's principal investigator, said HES will provide "more than 1,000 times the data about temperature and weather patterns we typically get from existing satellites."

He said this technology will help forecasters monitor hurricanes more closely and help plan flights for both commercial and government aircraft.

"They'll be able to predict unknown disasters that we've never been able to see," he said.

SDL's participation -- and its $1.3 million portion -- involves adapting the design and evaluating the performance of the technology that will ultimately enhance the instrument's resolution.

The data will be sent in real time and able to be converted to three-dimensional temperature images.

BAE Systems, which is based in the United Kingdom, has a North American headquarters in New England, Huppi said.

This project will hopefully lead to a long-term relationship with BAE, Huppi said.

"They have a lot of expertise," he said. "We're looking forward to expanding this relationship."

Copyright ©2004, Ogden Publishing Corporation