Advance in the remote sensing technology

Advance in the remote sensing technology

Article Number: 08

The remote sensing technology is rapidly improving, not just any satellite can capture the quality of images necessary to accurately decide where to closely search for copper, zinc or other mineral deposits. Despite the recent proliferation of satellite technology, there are only a handful of satellites with the technical quality, terrestrial resolution, and spectral range useful to exploration geologists.

"Very few of the satellites currently orbiting the earth can measure rock, mineral, soil and vegetation characteristics at the scale of interest required by the mining and oil industries," said Alexei Mankov, CEO of Advance Smart Exploration (ASE).

With more than 15 years of experience in the mining industry, Mankov has managed to establish alliances of great interest, among which the one made with the LIG Group stands out. His company specializes in providing remote sensing services to natural resource companies around the world, often delivering finished products to customers using Esri software in formats such as map packages.

"The vast majority of satellites being launched today, known as 'smallsats,' are simple red, green, blue and near-infrared platforms that lack the ability to map specific clay and iron minerals that are key to discovering. new mineral resources and hydrocarbons, "said Mankov. Additionally, he mentioned that" Smallsats are fine for capturing color images over an area, but they are not up to the task of detecting the specific minerals associated with copper, gold and copper deposits. diamonds or signs of vegetation stress on individual plants and trees.

The Mineral Frontier

Remote sensing has been used for many years to explore for minerals. Initially, aerial surveys were flown to capture images of an area where a known mineral in substantial quantities was located. These images would be compared with those of other locations having similar exposed outcrops. Image analysts would examine the two sets of photographs and try to determine the likelihood that the new area would also contain the same mineral before sending expedition teams to further explore and evaluate the area.

In the post-World War II era, satellite sensor technology evolved to include radar and infrared cameras. These new sensors had advantages over conventional aerial photography because of their ability to see through cloud cover and even spot camouflage. Remote sensing analysts working with these new sources of satellite imagery, however, still relied on the same compare-and-contrast methods pioneered in the original aerial surveys: essentially looking for areas with similar surface characteristics as known mining deposits.

Initiated by geologists from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and sent up by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, (NASA), various Landsat satellites have been continuously collecting data for nearly 50 years. In addition, there are approximately 15 other countries and agencies that have subsequently launched their own space missions for scientific research, with a combined total of 4,994 satellites currently in orbit. Today, mining companies employ specialized companies to analyze spectral data of specific areas collected by the satellite constellations that circle the earth to help them determine likely locations for mineral exploration and mining.

The Art and Science of Spectral Analysis

More than 4,000 natural minerals can be found on the earth, and each has its own unique chemical composition. The amount of solar radiation that a mineral reflects, transmits, and emits due to its chemical composition is like a fingerprint, or what is called a spectral signature. By measuring the tiny wavelength variations with remote sensing, a mineral’s spectral signature can often be identified from space.

“Our company analyzes the spectral imagery obtained from earth observation satellites to identify and map mineral signatures, as well as determine where minerals may be located for our customers,” Mankov said.


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