Imagine a global satellite system that would detect small forest
fires before they spread out of control.
Scientists at RIT's Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science
are working to build such a system. The university is teaming
up with NASA"s Regional Applications Center Northeast (RACNE)
at Cayuga Community College (CCC) in Auburn, N.Y., and Telespazio,
an Italian aerospace company that specializes in satellite operations
In fiscal year 2000, Congress included a $2.3 million appropriation
in NASA"s budget to initiate the project. Since then, total funding
has reached nearly $5 million. Congressman James Walsh of Syracuse,
who chairs the VA/HUD/ Independent Agencies subcommittee, championed
RIT will develop requirements for the fire-detection instrument
for the satellite remote-sensing system during the first phase
of the project known as Forest fIRe (infrared) Imaging Experimental
System, or "FIRES." RACNE will survey potential users such as
local, state and federal agencies.
"RIT"s role is to prove the underlying science and establish
the feasibility of a multi-satellite operational system," says
Michael Richardson, RIT distinguished researcher and FIRES project
Rep. Walsh foresees future benefits stemming from the collaboration
on the FIRES project. "The joint project is challenging research
with spin-off technology potential to help keep our young talented
graduates in New York state," Walsh says.
John Simmons "91, appropriations associate for Congressman Walsh,
was instrumental in bringing about this expansion of RIT"s partnership
with NASA. "I am delighted about this new effort between RIT and
NASA," he says. "RIT has been doing outstanding work in imaging
science and has a long and impressive track record in remote sensing.
I see this project as an important contributor to the long and
productive relationship between NASA and RIT."
Simmons, who served as president of Student Government while
at RIT, also notes that "it feels good to be able to help the
institution that helped me get where I am today."