At NASA, the Global Positioning System (GPS) is a vital resource for scientific research aimed at understanding and protecting Earth. NASA employs the band of GPS satellites for mapping Earth's ionosphere and developing earthquake-prediction tools. But traditional GPS still can't communicate beyond latitudes of 75 degrees, meaning that most of Greenland and Antarctica cannot receive GPS signals.
NASA partnered with NAVSYS Corp. of Colorado Springs, CO, to enhance the technology for better surveying of urban areas prone to signal blockages. The result of this collaboration led to a new aerial mapping and targeting system called GI-Eye, a software platform that integrates GPS with inertial and digital camera data to collect high-resolution imagery for precise visual navigation and geolocation of target coordinates.
The GI-Eye technology has been integrated into FLIR Systems' Star SAFIRE III airborne electro-optic thermal imaging system. Currently, there are about 800 of these units on more than 35 types of aircraft. The long-distance, 360-degree, day or night scoping abilities of the System have made it popular for aerial surveillance associated with search and rescue, reconnaissance, law enforcement, border patrol, news gathering, land-use planning, and environmental monitoring.