In the Words of NOAA Staff
Lieutenant Commander Brad Kearse says they were the quietest flights he's
ever piloted. With Lieutenant Will Odell and Lieutenant Mike Weaver, Brad
piloted NOAA's Cessna Citation which mapped ground zero at the
Pentagon and World Trade Center using aerial photography and Light Detection
and Ranging (LIDAR) technology.
Along with Lieutenant Odell, Lieutenant Weaver, Captain Jon Bailey, Mike
Aslaksen and others, Brad helped make possible compelling imagery that
communicated to the world what words could not. NOAA staff's nearly 20
hours in flight provided outstanding support for recovery and clean-up.
"It helped to be able to go home and tell our families how much NOAA was
doing to help," Mike said.
At ground zero, Mike coordinated ground surveying as staff cartographer
with the Remote Sensing Division of the National Ocean Service's National
Geodetic Survey. The over-all project manager and media spokesperson was
Captain Jon Bailey, chief of the Remote Sensing Division. Brad was the
Aircraft and Mission Commander for NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center.
The data they helped collect and map yielded extremely accurate geography
of the Pentagon and World Trade Center sites. As a result, recovery efforts
were targeted in the best informed directions. The work of NOAA's National
Geodetic Survey and Aircraft Operations Center pinpointed support structures,
elevator shafts, utility connections and basement storage areas.
3-D depiction of the World Trade Center, produced by LIDAR technology,
provided clear height measurements that were vital in mitigating possible
flooding from nearby rivers as recovery work reached basement levels.
The images provided critical information about the volume of debris
and how far cranes had to reach to remove it. The U.S. Army created
images from the data collected by Citation.
days later, aerial view of smoldering World Trade Center site. "Because
I was in Italy on September 11 and couldn't get home right away, I shared
the frustration of those who wanted to do something but couldn't," said
Jon Bailey. "It felt very good to be able to put our people, technology
and mapping expertise to work a few days later."
flood lights assisted NYC search and rescue efforts. "As our aircraft
approached ground zero to conduct night flights, we could see these
lights from 50 miles away," Brad Kearse said. "My family lives in Connecticut
and I was very aware that they knew at least 12 people who were lost
at the World Trade Center," said Jon Bailey.
Mike Aslasken (rear, right) with LIDAR technologists and NYC firefighters
in a fire department ATV. "Right after September 11 we were all flat out
angry about what had happened," Mike said. "Then the call came and, without
hesitation, we immediately went into action. All I could tell my family
was that the TV images did not begin to touch the reality of the destruction."
NOAA geodesist Roy Anderson and Mike Aslasken working with technologists
on ground-based LIDAR system. "Despite all the devastation, I was surprised
about how resilient the Pentagon was to enormous attack," Mike said.
To learn about geodesy, visit http://einstein.gge.unb.ca/tutorial/tutorial.htm
Ground-based LIDAR in use at Pentagon.
At Ground Zero in NYC, NOAA's Ed Carlson (left) and Jason Woolard (second
from left) take a break with LIDAR technologists.
Mike Aslaksen setting up NOAA's global positioning equipment in NYC.
The equipment collected data to generate a "photo ID point," targeting
precisely what the ariel photography captured. On some days, NOAA staff
worked 16 hours straight to collect survey data.
"NOAA's Cessna Citation, with dual ports for metric quality cameras
and LIDAR, was perfect for our missions," said Brad Kearse.
Relevant Web Sites
Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) with sample images
NOAA's Coastal Aerial Photography
Remote Sensing Research and Development