I read an intriguing short news post on Sat News about a series of 100 satellites for mapping underground topology to a depth of 5,000 feet. The story indicates that the CIA/Air Force/National Reconnaissance Office is working on a civil and military satellite-based, underground 3-D mapping system called DUMSTR. DUMSTR stands for â€œdefense underground mapping satellite tracking and rangingâ€.
The DUMSTR satellites will apparently be able to map small and large underground facilities as well as large geological plate tectonic movement. According to the story, DUMSTR is derived from the CIA/U.S. Air Force Defense Meteorological Mapping Program (DMSP) and the Air Force Global Positioning System (GPS) and doesnâ€™t require development of new technology.
I searched extensively on the Internet for further information, but didn’t find many other leads. I did come across a news story from November 2007 on Defense Update that BAE Systems was awarded an $8 Million USD contract to build an “active electromagnetic” tomography sensor for characterizing sub-surface objects.
“By illuminating the surface with electromagnetic energy ATAEM will interpret minute distortions of the electric and magnetic fields created by surface and sub-surface objects to detect and characterize surreptitious structures. The program elements will include the development of electromagnetic illumination sources, noise-isolated sensor payloads, and signals processing, and demonstrate them on an appropriate airborne platform.”
This story indicates that the platform for the sensor was to be determined. Apparently the ATAEM sensor technology is derived from geophysical exploration and is tried and tested for mineral and oil exploration. I’m amazed that underground structures can be determined from space, and am eager to learn more about this technology.
I imagine that underground resource exploration would be a potential use for this technology, particularly as there are serious security ramifications as resources are depleted and we move toward more of a resource-based economy.