Congress Appropriates an Additional $1.5 Million




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for Global Fire-Monitoring System

RIT Imaging Scientists Play Lead Role in NASA Project


Continued research by RIT scientists on a global fire-monitoring system has received a boost from Congress with an additional $1.5 million appropriation included in the fiscal year 2002 VA/HUD/Independent Agencies bill that was recently passed by the House of Representatives. Congressman James Walsh of Syracuse, chair of the subcommittee that includes the budget for NASA, and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, supported the funding for the Forest Fires Imaging Experimental System (FIRES) program, which taps Rochester Institute of Technologyís imaging-science expertise.

"This additional funding will enable us to continue this important research effort in applying imaging technology to help prevent forest fires around the world," says RIT President Albert Simone. "RIT is very grateful to Chairman Walsh and Congresswoman Slaughter for their support of this unique program."

With the additional $1.5 million, RIT and NASAís Regional Applications Center Northeast (RACNE) at Cayuga Community College (CCC) in Auburn, N.Y., will build a prototype sensor system. Once developed, this system could be deployed from spaceborne, airborne and ground-based platforms.

The project represents an application of RITís First in Class Initiative, which facilitates partnerships between the university, industry and government, and directly benefits students by giving them hands-on experience in spacecraft and microsystems development.

Through data analysis and modeling of wildfires, RIT will explore a new generation of sensors to observe wildfires on the earthís surface. The project will involve RIT faculty and students in the development of this new sensor system.

In the past two fiscal years, Congress has provided a total of $4.8 million in the NASA budget for this research program. RIT scientists have been working with their colleagues at RACNE and Telespazio, an Italian aerospace company that specializes in satellite operations and communications, to explore concepts for using remote sensing to detect wild fires.

NOTE: To talk to Michael Richardson, FIRES project manager and RIT distinguished researcher, or Anthony Vodacek, principal investigator and RIT imaging scientist, contact Susan Murphy at 716-475-5061 or smmuns@rit.edu.

The Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, part of the College of Science at RIT, offers bachelorís and masterís degrees and the nationís only Ph.D. in imaging science. The research and teaching laboratories at the center, established in 1985, are dedicated to electronic imaging, digital image processing, remote sensing, medical imaging, color science, optics and chemical imaging.