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NASA Ikhana Assists SoCal Firefighters

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-about-helping-those-in-need-with-robots dept.

NASA 60

ackthpt writes "Ikhana (a NASA drone) is primarily designed for suborbital earth sciences missions, but may be fitted out with a variety of sensors. Wednesday, Ikhana took off from Edwards Air Force Base for a 10 hour mission to observe forest fires in California, scanning the terrain from 23-25,000 feet using a variety of sensors for visible and IR light. Able to remain aloft for up to 30 continuous hours Ikhana serves up information in minutes, a process that takes hours when done by manned aircraft observation. 'The data is processed on the aircraft, up-linked to a satellite and then downloaded to a ground station. From there it's delivered to a computer server at NASA Ames. The imagery is then combined with Google Earth maps. Command center personnel can view the images on their computer screens and then delegate local firefighters accordingly.'"

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First (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21136189)

Fire

Awesome (4, Insightful)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136213)

Cut out the middle man (NASA) and you've got basically what they can do in Battlefield 2 from the Commander's view. Another five years and it'll stream straight to the google maps server for this specific function. We've already given google a nasa air strip, it's not long before we'll be giving them our tax dollars to leverage google maps/earth for more purposes beyond recovering crashed aircraft and scouting wildfires.

Re:Awesome (1)

CalSolt (999365) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136737)

I see no reason why we would be paying them to use maps already made freely available by them.

I bet within the next 50 years battlefield commanders will have a Command and Conquer style interface letting them observe from above and issue orders in real time across a wide area.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21137159)

I worked with a system like this in 2004. It was still in development at the time, but I promise you it's closer than 50 years away.

Global Hawk is being used as well (4, Informative)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137005)

I got a TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) for Beal AFB, along with a message that they are using their bird to help with the fires. Global Hawks are the only aircraft at Beal that need a TFR to launch.

Hot technology (2, Funny)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136221)

Can it Google map the hotspots where the really hot sorority girls congregate?

Hint (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21139659)

try going outside for a change.

Suborbital? (0, Troll)

nxtr (813179) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136225)

"Ikhana (a NASA drone) is primarily designed for suborbital earth sciences missions..."

In the same way a drone is made for "suborbital missions", many people everyday take planes to go places "suborbitably". Stupid buzzwords.

Re:Suborbital? (1, Redundant)

Futile Rhetoric (1105323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136619)

And how many people take everyday orbital flights? NASA does.

Re:Suborbital? (1)

vought (160908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136783)

I'd argue that in the context of "NASA vehicles" to do "earth science missions", suborbital is indeed a relevant categorization.

(public perception of) Re:Suborbital? (2)

theGreater (596196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137317)

The average individual likely cannot explain what the two 'A' characters in NASA stand for unless it's "another" and "astronauts". To them, NASA is the Moon Landing and the Shuttles and the Space Station. It therefore does not seem entirely unreasonable for a project involving "NASA's Suborbital Science Program within the Science Mission Directorate..." to be called, well, sub-orbital.

-theGreater.

Re:Suborbital? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137357)

"In the same way a drone is made for "suborbital missions", many people everyday take planes to go places "suborbitably". Stupid buzzwords."

NASA is known for sending shit into space. Of course they're going to be that specific about this drone.

Re:Suborbital? (1)

ColaMan (37550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21138373)

"Suborbital" to me defines a particular mode of flight - powered launch, ballistic trajectory of some sort, landing.

Toodling about a few miles up for a half-day doesn't really seem to fit it.

also, find sarah connor (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136257)

Wednesday, Ikhana (a NASA drone) took off from Edwards Air Force Base for a 10 hour mission to observe forest fires in California

So, when do we get a NASA drone that will terminate forest fires in California?

Re:also, find sarah connor (1, Funny)

UltraAyla (828879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136539)

I thought arnold was going to "terminate" the fires.

Re:also, find sarah connor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21137503)

no, he just "terminates" civil liberties

Re:also, find sarah connor (1)

TekGnos (624334) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137243)

What they should make is an unmanned water tanker sort of airplane. It seems a little too risky that we are putting pilots lives in danger any way. Unmanned versions could go longer, require less upkeep (no stopping for pee breaks and such) and could maybe even fly at night.

Then forest fires would be fun to put out! Like playing a game of Supreme Commander.

Re:also, find sarah connor (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#21139809)

What they should make is an unmanned water tanker sort of airplane. It seems a little too risky that we are putting pilots lives in danger any way.

Flying unmanned is harder than sitting in the seat. Among other things, you can't feel the aircraft moving around(wind gusts), and you can't hear the change in engine sounds, and your vision is limited to what is on the monitor.
These aircraft are big. C-130 and DC-10. I don't think space to take a pee is an issue.

Re:also, find sarah connor (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21140255)

"Flying unmanned is harder than sitting in the seat. Among other things, you can't feel the aircraft moving around(wind gusts), and you can't hear the change in engine sounds, and your vision is limited to what is on the monitor."

I blame the design of the system for that fault. The plane should know if the input it is getting will make it crash. The pilot station and engine also should not shutdown mid-flight. [flightglobal.com] The Predators keep crashing and they keep blaming the pilots. At some point, the pilot is no longer at fault. They should be able to design this thing to take bad inputs from the pilot so the thing doesn't go into a dying spin to the ground.

Re:also, find sarah connor (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21142091)

I see no reason they can't have multi-axis accelerometers (and have intuitive ways to display such data), or have microphones that allow you to hear the engine pitch.

Not as good as they make it out to be (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21136489)

"Manned airplanes have to land and download the data. You may not get the data for three or four or five hours" Or you could just use a standard Sierra Wireless AirCard. Thats what the company I work for does on our airplanes up here in Canada.

Now? (1, Insightful)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136507)

It's a little late to get maximum benefit from something like this. If the craft could have been put up Sunday, or even Monday, it would have been much more useful. I hope the delay is due to this being its first use, and that in future events it can be launched quickly.

Re:Now? (4, Informative)

LarryRiedel (141315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136879)

I hope the delay is due to this being its first use [...]

I think that particular plane is a NASA research asset, not part of some standard emergency response plan, and was not presumed to be deployed for that particular situation at all.

It's a little late to get maximum benefit from something like this

Maybe not maximum benefit, but I imagine the thermal sensors could be very valuable on Wednesday for places where it was not easy to tell visually where exactly fires were.

Larry

Re:Now? (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137779)

I'm surprised weather satellites can't provide any information needed for firefighting?

Re:Now? (2, Informative)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21141587)

I'm surprised weather satellites can't provide any information needed for firefighting?

Weather satellites orbit at over 22000 miles away. UAVs can fly at an altitude closer to 22000 feet (or less). They can see things in much greater detail than satellites in geostationary orbit.

Re:Now? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21142201)

It's not the case [hearsat.org] that all weather satellites are in geostationary orbit.

Anyways, the question isn't whether UAVs can provide more detail than satellites, but rather, whether firefighting requires more detail than existing satellite imagery can provide. (It's not as if you want 1m resolution for firefighting). Apparently there is some extra value in the UAV data, I'm just curious what it is.

Re:Now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21154193)

If they are not geostationary, they will just spend a few minutes over the fire at a time.
Useful to get status updates now and then, but the UAV will give you continous real time updates that you can use to move people around as things happens.

With the satellite data you will have to wait for a satellite to be over you, then the download and image processing.

Why does it look like the Predator-B? (0)

xquark (649804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136541)

I mean come on is it really that hard to come up with a unique looking design?

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (2, Insightful)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136575)

Maybe not, but it certainly isn't cheap to.

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (5, Informative)

Neo Quietus (1102313) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136583)

Because it IS a Predator-B. From the first link: "A Predator B unmanned aerial system has been acquired by NASA's Dryden Flight Re-search Center to support Earth science missions and advanced aeronautical technology development. The aircraft, named Ikhana..." I know, reading the articles, I must be new here.

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (2, Insightful)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137097)

yet again a military system gets turned into something that can be used in times of peace.

i wonder, can this thing deal with bad weather? as in ocean storms and massive icing?

if so it could potentially be used for search and rescue out at sea, and i would guess that 5-6 of these are cheaper then 5-6 rescue helicopters.

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (2, Informative)

bcmm (768152) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137469)

I assume a Black Hawk is very much at the expensive end of SAR choppers. They cost $6M each, in the standard US Army configuration (which is assault rather than SAR). A MQ-9 Reaper such as the Ikhana costs $8M, and can't actually pick people up.

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21140135)

Predators are known for not doing so well during bad weather. A large number of them have crashed actually. That is a big reason why using unmanned airplanes in US airspace has been getting a lot of bad press lately. One crashed in southern Arizona last year during a border search. I think it was just a few miles from some homes.

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#21142459)

No need, http://www.ga-asi.com/products/mariner.php [ga-asi.com]

The same company has something specifically for maritime surveillance.

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21142659)

interesting. but it seems to be aimed at replacing the P-3 orion or JSTARS, not SAR helicopters.

can it find a single person in heavy seas?

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (1)

barocco (1168573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21144441)

By speaking out with a de-facto RTFA comment, you have now acquired the level "Old_Noiseus" :)

Re:Why does it look like the Predator-B? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21136955)

...because it IS a Predator-B. It says so right on the first line of the factsheet...

NASA waste (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136651)

Can we please de-fund NASA and start spending that money on something with real immediate benefits to the folks here on Earth?

Oh, wait...

ditto (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136709)

Able to remain aloft for up to 30 continuous hours Ikhana serves up information in minutes, a process that takes hours when done by manned aircraft observation.
Hours? Minutes? So what, the fires have been burning for a week.

The article is clearly someone trying to justify their living off the public dole.

Re:ditto (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136827)

I don't think that's an issue. I think the point was to provide up-to-the-minute data. Getting a constant stream of data that is a minute old vs an hour old can be very beneficial in being able to fight the fires, I think it can make a huge difference.

Re:NASA waste (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 6 years ago | (#21136787)

I vote for more spending for Pickles!

Re:NASA waste (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21138931)

They've not lost the World Cup again have they?

Re:NASA waste (0, Offtopic)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137013)

Imagine what You Could Really Do (tm) with the billions being p*ssed away in Iraq by the current regime...

Re:NASA waste (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21139863)

Can we please de-fund NASA and start spending that money on something with real immediate benefits to the folks here on Earth?

Oh, wait...
Here's a thought. Can we please de-fund NASA's Mars-mission nonsense and start spending that money on something with real immediate benefits to the folks here on Earth?

So .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21137003)



Are you a coon?

Here is a Predator at Edwards, Ikhana or not? (2, Interesting)

jerryasher (151512) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137341)

Predator at Edwards [google.com] It's sitting next to a B-1. If you scroll around you can find three V-22s, 2 747 Shuttle Carriers, 2 more B-1s, an SR-71 [google.com] , 3 B-52s, a Flying Boxcar [google.com] , several warbirds, lots of jets and helicopters and three mechas, mostly disassembled and buried in the sand.

I've started at image for two days, but where's Waldo (pepper)?

Re:Here is a Predator at Edwards, Ikhana or not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21138819)

Re:Here is a Predator at Edwards, Ikhana or not? (1)

jerryasher (151512) | more than 6 years ago | (#21143725)

Thank you! I missed that chunk a few weeks ago, when for whatever reason, I google mapped Edwards.

Re:Here is a Predator at Edwards, Ikhana or not? (1)

jerryasher (151512) | more than 6 years ago | (#21143757)

Or let me thank you again for pointing identifying the Global Hawk and pointing out Creech Air Force Base. Interesting googling.

Usefulness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21137623)

I'm out on a SoCal fire right now so I'm not sure how much I can say. I have been out on two fires where this technology has been used and so far is has not been useful. It adds a coolness factor but thats it. The problem isn't that its not giving back good data. Its that the people they giving the data to don't understand most of it.

Sorry I really don't think I can go into anymore detail, but I do plan to talk to NASA about it.

You can't hold back the truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21137691)

"Ikhana (a NASA drone) is primarily designed for suborbital earth sciences missions, [...]

That's what they say, but if you correlate the flights of this thing and regional earthquakes ... I'm not saying there's any connection. But. Just check the facts. That's all I'm saying. Check the facts.

Don't worry rich white people (1)

kennylogins (1092227) | more than 6 years ago | (#21137853)

America is there for you.

Fail2ors?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21137953)

do8't want to feeql

data delivery (2, Interesting)

swell (195815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21138119)


quote "... for a 10 hour mission to observe forest fires in California, scanning the terrain from 23-25,000 feet using a variety of sensors for visible and IR light. Able to remain aloft for up to 30 continuous hours ..."

So what did it do for the remaining 20 hours? A beer run?

Displaced SoCal citizens could have used that data, we could still use it today (Saturday).

The good news is that the data wasn't entirely restricted to emergency personnel- you and I can see some of the GISified fire data here (pdf):
http://www.sdcountyemergency.com/newsreleases/10262007_1900hrs_Evac_FirePerem.pdf [sdcountyemergency.com]

and here (Google Earth application required):
http://mw1.google.com/mw-earth-vectordb/socalfires/eoc1/root.kml [google.com]

Re:data delivery (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21140695)

quote "... for a 10 hour mission to observe forest fires in California, scanning the terrain from 23-25,000 feet using a variety of sensors for visible and IR light. Able to remain aloft for up to 30 continuous hours ..."
 
So what did it do for the remaining 20 hours? A beer run?

It wasn't aloft for thirty hours, it was aloft for ten. It is "capable of remaining aloft for thirty hours" not it "was aloft for thirty hours". Reading comprehension FTW.
 
 

Displaced SoCal citizens could have used that data, we could still use it today (Saturday).

To some degree I have a limited amount of sympathy for the citizens of Southern California. Like the residents of New Orleans, who live in a city vulnerable to flooding from hurricanes... The citizens of Southern California live in an area that burns. Fairly regularly.

Other images (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21139761)

There are also some Pred-B and U-2 images of the fires floating around, taken by USAF assets in the last couple of days. I'd be surprised if they didn't find their way onto Google or LiveEarth today or tomorrow.

Without giving too much away, I was in the room yesterday when a major came in looking for suggestions on where and how to host some of these very hi-res images. The general consensus was to just give them away freely, starting with Google, MS & Nasa. They have the infrastructure to put it up quickly and publicly.

Eucalyptus in California, Australian bushfires (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21147317)

I've seen alot of eucalyptus tress in California which are native to Australia, and it looks to me like Californian's are experiencing what Australian bushfires are like. They're great trees but when they get hot you can notice a blue like haze from their flamable sap, like a gas around the tree. They burn so that their seed pods can spread without competing flora, they also drop alot of dry leaves and branches and after a few years they turn whatever area they live in into what California is experiencing now, you'll be suprised at how quickly it grows back.

The Koori's (australian native aboriginal's), who used the characteristic's of the trees to hunt, used to burn these trees off on purpose. In Australia the Bushfire brigade also burn the bush off to reduce the intensity of the fires when they come. Californian's should do the same thing while you have ecalyptus trees, it's the only way to manage these trees. I've been evacuated from my house for exactly the same type of fire, even if the fire doesn't turn into a storm it is a truely awe inspiring and frightening experience.

Burn them just before winter, that's when the Koori's do it, and they know eucalypt best.

Re:Eucalyptus in California, Australian bushfires (1)

wrecktafire (1181277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21156831)

We'll get started on that right away.

Re:Eucalyptus in California, Australian bushfires (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 6 years ago | (#21165013)

Wicked! Start by lighting up your own farts, then you can change your pseudonym to "wrectumfire".

Get it? rectum, fire.

ha ha ha!

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