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A few notes on research and development from Robert Brock, Ph.D.:

 

The reason NASA transferred technology to my company via a NASA Space Act Agreement was three fold:  

  1. NASA is a US government research agency, when an exciting technology is developed within NASA it often transfers the technology to the private sector of commercialization.
  1. NASA does not have the mission or capability to produce products. The research necessary to move a “technology” into a viable product is done at many different levels. For example, we obtained a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the USDA to help further research and product development. Unlike those in an academic or research setting, our goal was to produce a product that would be successful in the marketplace rather than publish research articles.
  2. Anyone who has taken a “technology concept” through the many stages of development and finally into the marketplace knows it is a long hard process. My optical company had a proven track record in optics, manufacturing, sales and distribution.

     Additionally, my interest in aviation and aerial photography let to the creation of Aerial Image Technology, a company founded by Brian Huberty (one of the nation’s top experts in aerial photography and remote sensing) and me. Our initial interest in the NASA optical filter technology was to develop filter lenses for our aerial cameras that could mimic Infrared photography. We created hundreds of filters in our optical laboratory for experimentation. Like many discoveries, some of ours were the result of serendipity.  

        For example, on one aerial photography mission over Eastern Washington while massive forest fires were ravaging Washington State, Brian said, “Wow, you have to see what filter # 137 does.”  

        While Brian was changing filters on the camera he held them up to identify the filter and check for any dust on the lenses. Out the aircraft window all he could see was smoke, but when he looked through lens # 137, he could see the mountains through the smoke. Wow indeed! That lens filter went on to become our NASTEK flame copper sunglass lens, a lens many consider to be the best sunglass lens in the world.  

        One of the reasons we have been hesitant to tell people exactly what they will see through our NASA lenses is that many people see colors differently. Research by the USAF and FAA suggests that between 7%-10% of people are color blind or color weak in one or both eyes. Other variables impact research when people request pictures taken through our lenses. Basically, when you look through our NASA lenses you see a “primary” image… it is often brighter and more dynamic than anything we could photography. The photographic image may be removed and distorted several generations between the time it is captured on film or CCD, transposed in format, saved, compressed, transferred, manipulated, viewed on screen and finally printed.

         Research is ongoing and discoveries are done by many who use our lenses in ways we never imagined. Mark Faris realized the potential impact the NASA Stress Detection lenses could have on the golf and turf industry. Ongoing research/experimentation by Mark and his friends is the foundation for Bomar Technologies. Every day, people use our lenses to see the world as they have never seen it before.

         Many of the observations are wonderfully exciting. Most of our research has not been published. Dr. Peter Murtha (Professor of Forestry-University of British Columbia, Canada) conducted a formal study (attached below). In one of the studies published by Dr. Murtha, the observer using our NASA SDG said, “Diseased trees stand out like lighters at a BC concert!”  Early detection is critical... when the whole hillside, forest or turf is dead, you can see the damage with your naked eye.

         click here for more history and information

Efficacy of NASA Plant Stress Glasses for Pine Beetle Detection

 

Leo Rankin

Forest Entomologist

Cariboo Forest Region

Williams Lake, B.C

Leo.Rankin@gems8.gov.bc.ca

 

Jamie Heath

Graduate Student

Faculty of Forestry

University of British Columbia

Vancouver, B.C.

jheath@interchange.ubc.ca

 

Dr. Peter Murtha

Professor

Faculty of Forestry

University of British Columbia

Vancouver, B.C.

murtha@interchange.ubc.ca

 

 

Abstract

        An annual aerial survey is conducted throughout most of British Columbia by the B.C. Ministry of Forests to locate bark beetle (Dendroctonus species) infestations using fixed wing aircraft.  Surveyors estimate the size of the infestation and sketch the location onto maps.  This study tested the effectiveness of NASA Plant Stress Glasses in locating trees that have been affected by mountain pine beetle, D. ponderosae.  The glasses were designed to filter out the colour green, while enhancing yellow and red wavelengths.  Beetle attacked trees turn red late in summer, at which time annual sketchmapping occurs.  A comparison of the accuracy of mapping with and without the glasses indicates that significantly more beetle infestations were recorded when the glasses were worn.

Introduction

        Bark beetles destroy thousands of hectares of pine forests every year.  It is the role of the forester to monitor for signs of insect infestation. This process is conducted by sketch mapping the locations and numbers of red attack trees, usually killed by bark beetles, onto maps during the annual aerial survey.  This process is conducted throughout most of British Columbia in the late summer / early fall, after the foliage has turned an orange - red colour.  Fixed wing aircraft are favoured for overview flights because they are more economical than rotary wing aircraft (Roswell, 1982).  High wing aircraft with bubble windows, such as the Cessna 185 are recommended (Hall and Maher, 1985).

          The overview flight sketch mapping is a cost effective method for initially detecting and mapping mountain pine beetle (IBM) outbreaks.  With experienced mappers, detection and location of infestations are generally as accurate as the scale of the map used (Hall and Maher, 1985). 

The newly developed NASA plant stress detection glasses may aid in the detection of beetle infestations, since the glasses were designed for similar projects.  The glasses were designed to filter out the colour green, which causes yellow (chlorotic) and red colours to become very apparent. The bark beetle infested trees turn red in late summer.  A test is needed to determine if the NASA plant stress detection glasses allow aerial surveyors to record more infestations.

        In 1997, Dr. Len Haslim received the title of NASA scientist of the Year for his invention of Plant Stress Detection Glasses.  According to Dr. Len Haslim, the glasses are sensitive to the 400-480nm and the 600-700nm regions of the wavelength.  The glasses block the green portion of the wavelength, thus healthy (green looking) vegetation looks black or gray, and the chlorotic or red colours stand out.

        Humans have the capability to "see" a large portion of the colour spectrum (approx. 400 - 700 nm) due to the visual absorption of four visual pigments.  Figure 1 shows the normalized absorbance spectra for the four human visual pigments, identified by the colour at the wavelength of maximum absorbance (Dartall et al., 1983). 

 

Figure 1

A chart showing the normalized absorbance spectra for the four human visual pigments, identified by the colour at the wavelength of maximum absorbance (Dartall et al., 1983).

        The sensitivity of the visual pigments is not the only factor that is important.  Selective absorption and scattering affect some portions of the pigment sensitive light.  The ultraviolet and near-ultraviolet portions of the wavelength are heavily absorbed prior to reaching the retina.  Figure 2 also shows that the peak sensitivity of the visual pigments is centered around the green portion of the wavelength (500 - 600 nm).  This center-loading of sensitivity in the green wavelengths overpowers the blue and red wavelengths.  By using a filter with a transmission curve opposite of human sensitivity, i.e., low transmission between 440 - 600nm and a high transmission in shortwave blue colours and especially the long wavelengths beginning with a sharp rise at 600nm (Stress detection lens), the light perceived by the retina and brain using the filter (shaded area in figure 3) allows the viewer to "see" what they normally "can not see" (Brock, 1998).

 

Figure 2

A graph showing the peak sensitivity of the visual pigments (after selective absorption and scattering) is centered around the green portion of the wavelength.

 

Figure 3

A graph showing the regions of the wavelength that are observed by the viewer after the glasses filter out the green light.

Objectives

"To test the efficacy of the NASA plant stress detection glasses for mountain pine beetle detection in aerial sketch-mapping."

Study Area

        The study area selected was located just north of Riske Creek, approximately 30 kilometers west of Williams Lake, B.C.. This particular area was chosen for a number of reasons.  In a previous project, the area had been photographed using a GPS encoded digital camera.  The area was near the airport, thus reducing aircraft costs.  Third, a large portion of the area in an unmanaged area owned by the Canadian Military, therefore has many groups of red infested pine trees.  The topographic relief was low which reduced the complexity of the test.

Method

Approximately 150km2 (1, BCGS mapsheet) was surveyed from a fixed wing aircraft.  The aircraft traveled at approximately 90 knots along preset longitudinal flight lines, 1700 feet above the ground.  As the aircraft traveled along the flightlines, two sketchmappers (seated in tandem), survey the forests from the same side of the aircraft. This ensured that all attacks are picked up, locations are mapped more accurately due to repetition, and the forward observer helped the pilot position the plane for each line (Roswell, 1982).  The locations and size of the infestations were marked onto 1:40 000 scale colour themed maps.

The sketchmapping test was conducted with the same two participants on two different dates.  The first survey was August 30th 1999.   Surveyor #1 wore the NASA plant stress detection glasses, while surveyor #2 did not wear any glasses.  The second survey was on October 15th 1999.  For that survey the surveyor #2 wore the glasses while surveyor #1 did not.  The second survey was conducted so late in the season to ensure that the surveyors would not easily recall the locations and sizes of the infestations. 

The results from the finished sketch-maps are produced with and without the plant stress detection glasses were compared to the results from the GPS encoded, digital camera survey.  GPS -encoded, digital imagery was used to survey the exact location and size (# of red trees) in each infestation. The maps were compared by determining the number of omission (mountain pine beetle sites missed by sketch mapping) and commission (incorrect calls of mountain pine beetle attack) errors.   If the location of the sketchmapped infestation was further than 150m of the actual (GPS) location it was not included. 

 

Results

 

Surveyor #1

Infestation sizes

With Glasses (August 30th)

Without Glasses (October 15th)

1 – 2 trees

28a

25a

3 – 6 trees

48a

21b

>6

18a

13a

Table 1

Number of infestations mapped by size with and without NASA Stress Detection Glasses (Mapsheet 093b017).  Letters which are different in each row indicate significant difference.

 

 

Surveyor #2

Infestation sizes

With Glasses (October 15th)

Without Glasses (August 30th)

1 – 2 trees

30a

12b

3 – 6 trees

24a

13b

>6

24a

26a

Table 2

Number of infestations mapped by size with and without NASA Stress Detection Glasses (Mapsheet 093b017).  Letters which are different in each row indicate significant difference.

 

 

Actual Infestations (from aerial photography)

Infestation sizes

Number of Infestations

1 – 2 trees

54

3 – 6 trees

52

>6

28

Table 3

Actual infestations from aerial photographs by infestation size for mapsheets sketchmapped.  Infestations were based from GPS-encoded digital imagery.

 

 

Conclusions and Recommendations:

 

Surveyor #1

Infestation sizes

With Glasses (August 30th)

Without Glasses (October 15th)

1 – 2 trees

51.8 %

46.3 %

3 – 6 trees

92.3 %

40.4 %

>6

64.3 %

46.4 %

Table 4

Percent red-attacked infestations mapped by surveyor 1 and 2 as compared to actual infestations from aerial GPS digital imagery.

 

Surveyor #2

Infestation sizes

With Glasses (October 15th)

Without Glasses (August 30th)

1 – 2 trees

55.6 %

22.2 %

3 – 6 trees

48 %

25.0 %

>6

85.7 %

92.9 %

Table 5

Percent red-attacked infestations mapped by surveyor 1 and 2 as compared to actual infestations from aerial GPS digital imagery.

 

        Bark beetle mapping with and without NASA glasses indicated that more beetle-attacked infestations were detected when the glasses were worn in two of the three infestation levels.  There was variation in mapping betweeb surveyors mapped significantly more beetle infestations in the three to six tree patches (p<0.01 chi square test) while wearing NASA glasses.  Surveyor 2 mapped significantly more of the one to two tree patches while wearing glasses (p<0.001, chi square test).  No significant differenc was found in infestations over 6 trees in size although surveyor 1 detected 27% more large beetle patches while wearing the glasses.  The NASA glasses do enhance detection of IBM infestations, especially infestations of 6 trees or less.

 

A test comparing the accuracy of sketchmapping with the glasses and without the glasses indicates that more of the beetle-attacked trees were recorded when the glasses were worn.  This seems to be especially the case when the trees occur individually and in clumps of three to six.  Surveyor #1 recorded 2.3 times more infestations (of 3 - 6 trees) while wearing the glasses, than without.  Likewise, surveyor #2 also recorded more infestations while wearing the glasses.   He recorded 1.9 times more infestations (of 3 - 6 trees), while wearing the glasses, than without.  The NASA glasses do enhance detection of IBM infestations, especially infestations of 6 trees or less.

 

This year, special colour-themed aerial survey maps will be created where the colours are "glasses friendly."  We will try to avoid colours that are hard to distinguish (orange and dark yellow) and colours that are too bright (yellow) should be avoided.  Maps with only a few distinct colours and crosshatching should be used to better classify ground features.  Maps should be ground tested for best visibility before they are mass produced for sketch mapping.

 

References

 

1)     Brock, R., 1999, Stress Detection Glasses, History and Additional Information, Advanced Optical Technology / Optical Sales Corp. Publication, Oregon.

2)     Dartnall, H.J.A., Bowmaker, J.K., and Mollen, J.D., 1983.  Microspectrophotometry of Human Photoreceptors.  Pages 69-80 in Colour Vision, London, Academic Press.

3)     Roswell, R.P., 1982, Bark beetle Detection Manual Prince Rupert Forest Region.  B.C. Ministry of Forests, Queens Printer, Victoria, Canada.

4)     Hall, P.M. and T.F. Maher, 1986, Proceedings of the Mountain Pine Beetle Symposium, Smithers, 1985.  B.C. Ministry of Forests, Pest report #7, Victoria, Canada.

5)     Huberty, B., Brock, R., Blazquez, C., and V. Ambrosia, 1998, Human Remote Sensing with Specially Filtered Glasses for Forestry and Agriculture, Proceedings from the Seventh Annual Forest Service Remote Sensing Applications Conference, American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Maryland, USA, pages 377-381.

 

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