Guide to Hyperspectral Imaging

What Is Hyperspectral Imaging?

Hyperspectral imaging, also known as imaging spectroscopy, refers to the gathering and processing of data from across the vast electromagnetic spectrum.  By sensing the wavelengths of light and capturing the information as a set of images with each pixel containing a complete spectrum, a hyperspectral camera allows us to “see” things invisible to the human eye.

The technology behind hyperspectral imaging is not exactly new.  Like many useful inventions, hyperspectral imaging had its origins with NASA half a century ago.  NASA launched Landsat I in 1972.  The satellite employed multispectral imaging–an early cousin to hyperspectral imaging–to gather information about Earth from space.  By 1983, hyperspectral imaging was in the space program’s development pipeline.

What Is the Value of Hyperspectral Imaging?

The great value of hyperspectral imaging lies in its ability to identify the presence of elements in air, water, or soil.  Every element has a unique spectral line, or signature, that is best understood as a fingerprint.  By identifying and cataloging these spectral fingerprints, scientists can clear a pathway for users of imaging spectroscopy to identify the presence of a mind boggling array of elements and chemicals.

The mining industry quickly realized the technology’s value in hunting down new mineral deposits and was using it by the late 1980s.  Like many technologies, however, hyperspectral imaging equipment took a long time to “democratize” and miniaturize to the point where it offered more affordable applications across many industries.

What Industries Can Benefit from Hyperspectral Imaging?

So many uses have been found for hyperspectral imaging that it would be impossible to list all of them.  Among others, hyperspectral imaging has found applications in the following sectors:

  • Oil and gas mining
  • Food processing
  • Environmental
  • Agriculture
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Forensics
  • Waste management
  • Astronomy
  • Surveillance
  • Civil engineering

What Are Some of the Benefits of Hyperspectral Imaging?

Following are examples of the benefits of hyperspectral imaging in three important sectors.

Hyperspectral imaging technology helps the mining industry:

  • Identify the presence of minerals
  • Pinpoint the direction of an ore body
  • Scan mine tailings
  • Safely explore inaccessible or hazardous areas

In agriculture, hyperspectral imaging:

  • Reliably isolates the presence of insects or disease
  • Provides a visual representation of growing crops
  • Helps calculate yield
  • Measures levels of various minerals in plants
  • Detects stress in plants from lack (or overabundance) of water

Environmentalists use imaging spectroscopy to:

  • Track the spread of algae
  • Monitor contaminants such as leakage from dump sites
  • Monitor emissions from power plants, incinerators, and similar facilities
  • Detect the temperature and structure of wildfires
  • Identify the types of plastics littering Earth’s oceans

Where Can I Access This Technology?

Darling Geomatics a leader in hyperspectral imaging.  Mounting hyperspectral cameras and LiDAR sensors on a heavy-lift drone supports precise, measurable, and repeatable 3D spectral data for large surface areas.  Always on the cutting edge of their field, Darling Geomatics enjoys a global reputation for excellence.  Trust Darling Geomatics to deliver accurate results.


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