US Geological Survey analyzes data at DM

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa
  • 355th Wing

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – A U.S. Geological Survey field team conducted field work in support of NASA’s ER-2 High-Altitude Science Aircraft at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., June 11, 2024.

The team, comprised of a geophysicist and physical scientist, analyzed hyperspectral imaging for the USGS Earth Mapping Resources Initiative and for sensors flown by the ER-2 to increase the nation’s geologic knowledge of critical mineral resources.

“The main goal of the work was to make reflectance measurements of an area of ground to compare with and to improve airborne hyperspectral data,” said Ray Kokaly, USGS research geophysicist.

The field team needed an optimal area for their data gathering, and after researching locations in Arizona, concluded that the Davis-Monthan parade pad was one of many sites the team would focus its research on.

“Because the pad here has such a high reflective surface, we can correlate it well with the airborne data collected,” said Evan Cox, USGS geophysicist. “Without Davis-Monthan’s help we would probably not have a calibration site in the vicinity of Tucson of equally high quality. This is definitely an optimal site for airborne data, making it more accurate for the ER-2.”

In preparation for USGS’s visit, the 355th Operations Support Squadron weather operations team delivered forecast to pinpoint the exact day and time that met operational needs for the field team’s survey.

“Finding clear skies isn't exactly easy, and we even had to push their original timeline to find their ideal window,” said Master Sgt. Cheyenne Nelson, 355th OSS weather operations section chief.

“The representatives we worked with knew the quality of work the weather team produces—we’re easy to work with and [provide trustworthy] weather information.”

It is common for the USGS to work with local, state and federal agencies to identify and measure ground calibration sites.

The teamwork of the 355th OSS weather team, 355th Wing A-Staff and Command Post was imperative in coordinating with USGS and NASA to secure the location for the research in support of the nation's economy, renewable energy development, and national security.

USGC also gathered data in Wilcox, Ariz., across California and Nevada, and plans to cover portions of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.