The US Air Force has recently awarded a Colorado-based startup a $1.25 million contract to support nighttime thermal imaging operations for its intelligence assessment unit.

As part of the deal, the satellite company Albedo will provide the Air Force with its specialized equipment that will enable the service to collect and analyze high-resolution satellite imagery data from visible and thermal infrared spectrums at night for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC).

Enhancing Intelligence Capabilities with Thermal Imaging

Thermal imaging is among the vital tool for intelligence gathering. It can help identify head signatures and activity patterns in areas that may not be visible to the naked eye or traditional imaging technologies. By leveraging thermal imaging technology, the Air Force, along with the Space Force, can gather critical intelligence insights to support operations and other intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

In this statement, US Space Force ISR Deputy Director Joseph Rouge explained that the commercial satellite imagery available for nighttime operations is currently limited to synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Synthetic aperture radar uses microwave frequencies to create detailed images of the Earth’s surface. Nonetheless, it still has limitations regarding resolution quality and the ability to detect certain types of materials.