METHANE IMAGING PROJECT

RUTGERS-CIMIC, BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY AND HUDSON RESEARCH INC.

The Rutgers University Center for Information Management, Integration and Connectivity (CIMIC) is a university/industry cooperative research center whose objective, among others is to identify, develop and demonstrate new applications, and to be instrumental in the transfer of technology to sponsor organizations. Currently, CIMIC is in the first year of a five year collaborative agreement with the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission (HMDC) to develop and transfer state-of-the-art technology to monitor and benchmark environmental improvements throughout the 32 square mile HMDC district.

Bowling Green State University and Hudson Research, Inc. are currently involved in designing and implementing the Bowling Green Geophysical Imaging Experiment "Flying Falcon" (also known as the Get-Away Special (GAS) G-301). This experiment is scheduled for launch on the space shuttle in late 1998. Bowling Green, through the good auspices of an alumnus, is providing the "Get-Away-Special" to the program, and Hudson Research, Inc. is providing system design, construction, and program management for the experiment.

This experiment will employ a new type of infrared (IR) imager designed and built by Hudson Research, Inc. This apparatus is an uncooled, quantum ferro-electric, infrared return beam vidicon (IRBV) camera capable of detecting thermal infrared radiation throughout the 0.5-50.0 microns wavelength region. This will be the highest spatial resolution imaging experiment of any civilian thermal infrared imaging system ever orbited and the first attempt at imaging methane from space in the thermal infrared.

The "Flying Falcon" experiment has four major objectives. One of these objectives is to image and map methane plumes with high-spatial-resolution, multi-spectral thermal IR satellite data collected over a known active solid landfill. Methane is a green house gas that contributes to global warming and is the principal gas escaping from solid waste landfills. It is expected that by implementing the methane mapping objective, a new, more effective and inexpensive methane emission monitoring technology will be developed.

Since 1995, approximately 1.3 billion cubic feet/yr. of methane gas has been collected from more than 200 acres of land fills within the HMDC district. The mining of new sites is expected to increase the collection of methane to 2.8 billion cubic feet/yr. by 1999. With the new collection sites operational HMDC will be the host of the largest methane recovery facility in New Jersey and the third largest in the United States.

Starting in early spring 1998, HMDC will have in place a comprehensive environmental monitoring system that will continuously monitor (among others) surface temperatures and incident solar irradiation from five strategic locations in the district. This ground monitoring system along with the exceptional volumes of methane generated and the possibility of releasing controlled amounts of methane for experimentation and calibration makes HMDC the ideal testbed for the methane detection component of the "Flying Falcon" experiment.

The objective of this collaboration is to unite efforts and resources between Rutgers-CIMIC, Bowling Green State University and Hudson Research, Inc. to achieve the goal of mapping methane plumes from landfills in the Meadowlands District from space with a high-spatial-resolution, multispectral thermal infra-red camera.

Rutgers-CIMIC through its agreement with HMDC will facilitate Bowling Green State University and Hudson Research, Inc.'s access to HMDC grounds and facilities for the purposes of calibrating the initial sensor prototypes manufactured by Hudson Research, Inc. In order to reduce the cost of the hardware and software involved in the experiment Rutgers-CIMIC and HMDC, through their formal channels will seek to influence NASA's GAS program to have the Flying Falcon experiment upgraded so that the experiment can run on electric power supplied from the space shuttle's main power system. The upgrade will also seek to commit greater astronaut involvement in the experiment.

Hudson Research, Inc. will design and develop the prototype camera, coordinate the ground testing and provide integration and program management for the experiment. Bowling Green State University will provide the software and image processing capability to create the final images for interpretation. Rutgers-CIMIC will collaborate with Bowling Green State University by providing human resources and computing power to aid in the creation of the final images.

After the experiment is completed and there is sufficient scientific evidence suggesting that this technology is reliable and competitive in terms of cost compared to the traditional methods for detecting methane, Rutgers-CIMIC will adopt and transfer this technology to HMDC.

HMDC will use and demonstrate this state-of-the-art technology to potential users and become a national show case for monitoring gas emissions from space. Moreover, this technology will play an important role in determining and monitoring green house gas emissions within the context of the new Kyoto protocol.