A cell phone picture has three primary bands (red, green, and blue) that recreate what the human eye sees. But, what if you want or need to see more? Hyperspectral imaging (HSI) uses thousands of specific bands (think hundreds of different segments of blue, green, red, and even going beyond the visible spectrum!) to pick up the unique response of what you are imaging. So instead of just having a gorgeous picture of that sunflower in a field, you now can tell its lignin content, health, and even begin to model it’s CO2 interactions. The wavelength bands in HSI provide a high-level of spectral and radiometric accuracy that makes the imagery particularly useful in a number of industries including energy, environmental monitoring, agriculture, construction, and government to name a few.
HSI for Oil and Gas Applications
The ability to get high-detail information is essential for many monitoring practices in our complicated world, where complex chemical and physical interactions of things like vegetation, soil and mineral types, and even chemical analysis of items, need to be understood. One example of this type of monitoring uses hyperspectral imaging to track petrochemicals. The chemical seepage of oil is visible with hyperspectral technology even in areas of mixed land surface such as vegetation, soil, and manmade structures. Oils and petrochemicals have unique signatures within the visible and near infrared spectrum, and so large-scale analysis for different environmental interactions and searching for spills of interest is applicable with this technological growth.
In maritime settings, hyperspectral analysis has also proven to be able to pick up oil signatures on the water surface. This allows for better understanding of the amount of oil that is present, which can be used greatly for forecasting impact, and tracking the spill itself. For example, after the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, hyperspectral analysis was done on multiple oil samples, allowing for classification of similar oil responses on water and beach surfaces.