EPA ASPECT attends the Presidential Inauguration

The EPA ASPECT aircraft recently helped ensure the safety of the crowds which gathered for the successful inauguration.


The Washington Times article “Mapping a picture of Earth’s minute particles from the sky” includes this info (click link for the complete article)

For hours each night, a pilot flew a 1968 Aero Commander dual propeller airplane, crisscrossing the skies around the Capital Beltway. But because of what it carried, the plane actually is the only one of its kind in the country.

Inside, there’s a collection, among other technology, of infrared and gamma-ray spectrometers, a neutron detector, scanners, cameras and broadband satellite equipment that remotely transmit chemical and radiological data back to the scientists on the ground.

EPA ASPECT – On the Scene

On the scene, in the air, when needed, where needed.   The EPA ASPECT aircraft continues to provide on-scene commanders with the information they need to make critical decisions.
Algorithms, aircraft, and scientific analysis that allows state of the art detection at a higher sensitivity make the ASPECT program unique.   Wheels up on call make the program available when needed.  A solid, well developed and practiced concept of operations (CONOPS) makes ASPECT repeatable and reliable.

Aerial and Ground Radiological Surveys Phosphate Mines Conducted in January 2011

Executive Summary

In January 2011, EPA Region 4 initiated a joint ground-based radiological survey effort among the EPA Environmental Response Team (ERT), EPA Region 4, and the Department of Energy (DOE) Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) of a portion of the Coronet Superfund Site, near Plant City, Florida. During the ground-based survey effort, an aerial radiological survey was performed over the same area by the EPA Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT) Program. Funding for the aerial survey was provided through an interagency agreement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Nuclear Incident Response Team (NIRT) Program.

Click here for the complete EPA Mission Report

The ASPECT aircraft used the following flight procedures for data collection on January 19, 2011:

  • Altitude above the ground level (AGL): 300 feet 500 feet
  • Target Speed: 100 knots (115 mph)
  • Line Spacing: 300 feet
  • One second data collection frequency

A unique feature of the ASPECT remote sensing technologies  includes the ability to process spectral data automatically in the aircraft with a full reach back link to the program QA/QC program. As data is generated in the aircraft using the pattern recognition software, a support data package is extracted by the reach back team and independently reviewed as a confirmation to data generated on the aircraft.

CNN interviews Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) on the EPA ASPECT Aircraft

Wednesday, July 13, 2010, CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. Correspondent Ines Ferre interviewed Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) who fought to keep the EPA’s ASPECT Aircraft flying. ASPECT (Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology) is the Nation’s only 24/7 airborne emergency response chemical and radiological mapping program. Dr. Robert Kroutil, the team’s lead scientist, figured out how to reprogram ASPECT’s software to ensure that it detect the difference between oil, oil sheen, algae blooms, and turbulent water. From the air, algae and oil look similar. ASPECT’s new capability to detect oil makes the aircraft invaluable to the efforts surrounding the environmental disaster that BP created on April 20, 2010.

Prior to Rep. Taylor’s leadership in organizing the response efforts for Mississippi, the response was characterized as playing Marco Polo in the Gulf like a bunch of headless chickens.

Leveraging his 13 years in the U.S. Coast Guard where he lead search and rescue efforts and his leadership in the Katrina aftermath, Rep. Taylor’s expertise has ensured that the ASPECT team remain in the Gulf and be tasked with flying the Mississippi Gulf. Equally as important, Rep. Taylor is the reason that the coordination between what was in the air, the ground, and the water has turned into a smoother, cooperative, and effective effort to prevent oil from entering the Mississippi Sound.

Airborne remote sensing for Deepwater Horizon oil spill emergency response

Airborne remote sensing for Deepwater Horizon oil spill emergency response

Imaging Spectrometry XV. Edited by Shen, Sylvia S.; Lewis, Paul E. Proceedings of the SPIE, Volume 7812, pp. 78120E-78120E-13 (2010).

On April 28, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT) aircraft was deployed to Gulfport, Mississippi to provide airborne remotely sensed air monitoring and situational awareness data and products in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. The ASPECT aircraft was released from service on August 9, 2010 after having flown over 75 missions that included over 250 hours of flight operation. ASPECT’s initial mission responsibility was to provide air quality monitoring (i.e., identification of vapor species) during various oil burning operations. The ASPECT airborne wide-area infrared remote sensing spectral data was used to evaluate the hazard potential of vapors being produced from open water oil burns near the Deepwater Horizon rig site. Other significant remote sensing data products and innovations included the development of an advanced capability to correctly identify, locate, characterize, and quantify surface oil that could reach beaches and wetland areas. This advanced identification product provided the Incident Command an improved capability to locate surface oil in order to improve the effectiveness of oil skimmer vessel recovery efforts directed by the US Coast Guard. This paper discusses the application of infrared spectroscopy and multispectral infrared imagery to address significant issues associated with this national crisis. More specifically, this paper addresses the airborne remote sensing capabilities, technology, and data analysis products developed specifically to optimize the resources and capabilities of the Deepwater Horizon Incident Command structure personnel and their remediation efforts.

DOI: 10.1117/12.863258

Read More or copy of full article: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010SPIE.7812E..10K

Unique Sensor Plane Maps Invisible Toxins for First Responders

A unique airborne emergency response tool, ASPECT is a Los Alamos/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency project that can put chemical and radiological mapping tools in the air over an accident scene. The name ASPECT is an acronym for Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology.

Update, Sept. 19, 2008: Flying over storm-damaged refineries and chemical factories, a twin-engine plane carrying the ASPECT (Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology) system has been on duty throughout the recent hurricanes that have swept the Florida and Gulf Coast areas. ASPECT is a project of the U.S. U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys National Decontamination Team. Los Alamos National Laboratory leads a science and technology program supporting the EPA and the ASPECT aircraft.

Los Alamos Supports the U.S. EPA During an ASPECT Quick Reaction Deployment to the Marcus Oil Chemical Fire in Houston, Texas, 12/03/04

At 6 pm Central Time on Friday 12/03/04, the Marcus Oil and Chemical Plant located in southwest Houston, Texas was reported by plant personnel to be on fire.  The plant is a large manufacturer of a polyethylene wax that is used in a variety of consumer products.  Within 15 minutes, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to deploy the ASPECT aircraft from the Waxahachie, Texas hangar to support ground HazMat teams.  The focus of the deployment was to determine the threat of downwind chemical hazards at the site.  Initial observers at the site reported flames several hundred feet high.  The Houston Police and Fire Departments immediately evacuated a 4 square block area around the plant.

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