Why You Should Care about Hyperspectral Imaging

July 16, 2015 by Jennifer A. Diffley

The hyperspectral imaging market is said to be worth $83.19 million in the next 3 years. Here's why it's important to know what it is and how it could impact our life both on earth and in space.

The hyperspectral imaging market is said to be worth $83.19 million in the next 3 years. 

This week, as NASA's New Horizons spacecraft came within 7,800 miles of Pluto's surface, the first pictures of Pluto's surface were revealed to our world, showing a stunning landscape of the mysterious planet. The event happens to coincide with a report released by MarketsandMarkets that predicts the hyperspectral imaging market to be worth $84.19 million within the next 3 years. This is most likely because scientists are perfecting the technology, which means they're getting closer to accurately being able to detect and identify minerals, terrestial vegetation, and man-made materials and backgrounds.

Pluto's largest moon, Charon. Courtesy USNews.

While applicable to space exploration, hyperspectral imaging can also be utilized in food & agriculture, military surveillance, environment monitoring, life sciences and medical diagnostics, calorimetry, meteorology, mining and mineralogy, machine vision, and process control. Once perfected, it would be able to detect chemical weaponry before it's released for its intended purpose, or determine the exact mineral makeup of a land mass.  

Hyperspectral imagery detects bands of narrow bandwidth

While previously the strain of processing that kind of complex data exceeded available hardware, MCUs and other environmental components have negated that constraint. However, at the moment hyperspectral imagery is cost prohibitive, so while it could be used to determine the location of oil fields or removing the pits from cherries for easier consumption, most companies aren't willing or simply can't invest in the technology. If cost were no longer a factor, mass adoption for thousands of applications would be an inevitability.

Yet, even at its current cost point, the research points to hyperspectral imagery becoming a powerful tool within the next three years.

So, while we now have compelling photos of Pluto's surface, soon we'll be able to discover what lies beneath it.