balloon high in blue sky

A view from 1000 feet

view of streets from 1000 feet

A glimpse inside the camera box

inside view of camera box

Getting the balloon ready to soar

attaching the balloon to bricks
filling up balloon

Taking transportation data collection up, up and away

CTRE is taking transportation data collection to new heights--literally. A CTRE team led by Reg Souleyrette, associate director for transportation planning and information systems, and Shauna Hallmark, transportation engineer, is exploring the use of tethered balloons as platforms for data collection.

From the balloons, data can be collected on the infrastructure (to support trucking), operational safety (for design of problem areas), and perhaps on critical infrastructure protection, a security issue. Still images can be captured in color, black and white, and near infrared, and video imagery can be captured in digital and film formats. The research team also plans to explore the use of thermal imagery.

Working with HABET Team

To learn how to use balloons as a potentially viable platform for transportation data collection and surveillance, CTRE has partnered with the ISU HABET Team (High Altitude Balloon Experiments in Technology). HABET is part of the Spacecraft Systems and Operations Lab (SSOL) of NASA's Iowa Space Grant Consortium.

The CTRE team is learning about the many logistical issues involved with ballooning, such as weather, cost, equipment, planning, safety, etc. One student team member, Sitansu Pattnaik, is receiving the formal training required to operate these balloons in FAA airspace (altitudes over 500 feet). Other CTRE team members include Zach Hans, GIS specialist, and David Veneziano, a graduate research assistant.

Remote sensing

In addition to experimenting with balloons, CTRE has used aerial photography and LIDAR (LASER terrain mapping done from an airplane) applications for collecting transportation inventory data, access management information, and location and design data.

CTRE has been developing and testing remote sensing applications for transportation infrastructure planning and design since 1999 as part of the National Consortium of Remote Sensing in Transportation. This consortium includes four universities, led by the University of California, Santa Barbara, which were selected by the USDOT and NASA to investigate commercial transportation applications of satellite and other remote sensing technology investments.

Last updated May 9, 2002

CTRE is an Iowa State University center.

Address: 2711 S. Loop Drive, Suite 4700, Ames, IA 50010-8664

Phone: 515-294-8103
FAX: 515-294-0467

CTRE Communications: Marcia Brink
CTRE Webmaster: Michele Regenold


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