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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Fire evacuees can use aerial technology system for up-to-date view of their homes

July 1st, 2011 by Susan Smith

­Los Alamos National Laboratory and a New Mexico aerial technology firm on Thursday deployed a cutting-edge surveillance system­normally used to help U.S. conventional military forces in combat ­for a peaceful purpose: helping Las Conchas fire evacuees see an up-to-date view of their homes.

A higher resolution version of the system, known as Angel Fire, was developed by LANL and the Air Force Research Laboratory for the Department of Defense. It’s described as a surveillance camera for a city-sized area, complete with instant replay and the ability to zoom in to see, for example, someone planting an improvised explosive device.

But over Los Alamos, the system is providing snapshots in time viewable over a Web site.

“This is like Google Earth, except it’s a Google Earth image from today,” said William Rees, LANL’s principal associate director for Global Security. “Our evacuees can access the image and see their homes, or their favorite hiking areas, or the burned areas, on images just a few hours old.”

“This is yet another example of a technology developed for global security missions being used to help everyday people in a very real way,” said LANL Director Charles McMillan. “When I learned we might be able to use it here, I said ‘let’s make it happen.’”

The image will allow zooming no closer than a typical Google Earth picture, but will nonetheless provide a bird’s-eye view of tens of square miles.

Transparent Sky LLC, a small, New Mexico business, is donating the equipment and time for these flights.

To access the images, users should go to and follow the directions.

Note: The imagery is for reference purposes only and should not be relied upon as an accurate or real-time representation of conditions. Smoke and cloud cover may obscure many areas.  Updated imagery will be obtained when possible and added to this site.

The Laboratory has posted a number of pictures to its Flickr photo site.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory (<>)

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

About Transparent Sky, LLC

Transparent Sky is a small New Mexico firm specializing in aerial imagery, mapping and airborne surveillance for research and development. Its founder, Steve Suddarth, PhD, developed Transparent Sky’s wide-area surveillance system while working as a US Strategic command liaison to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). – NM Fire Info

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