EPA’s Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology (ASPECT)

Based near Dallas, Texas, and able to deploy within one hour of notification, ASPECT is the nation’s only airborne real-time chemical and radiological detection, infrared and photographic imagery platform. ASPECT is available to assist local, national, and international agencies supporting hazardous substance response, radiological incidents, and situational awareness in the US. ASPECT is available 24/7/365 and can be collecting data at any site in the continental US within nine hours.


ASPECT consists of a suite of sensors and software mounted in a twin-engine aircraft. This suite can generate data in a variety of formats to produce scientifically valid products within five minutes of data collection. Primary sensors and features include:

  • Infrared Line Scanner
  • High Speed Infrared Spectrometer
  • Gamma-Ray Spectrometers
  • He3 Neutron Detector
  • Digital Aerial Cameras
  • Satellite Communication System
  • Data Delivery Using Google Earth, ESRI and other formats

To request ASPECT assistance, please call:

  • EPA’s Emergency Operations Center at 202-564-3850; or
  • the National Call Center at 800-424-8802.

ASPECT (Airborne Spectral Photometric Environmental Collection Technology) Brochure (PDF) (2 pp, 5.6M)

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ASPECT Flight Schedule (subject to change)

Ongoing: Comprehensive Atmospheric Monitoring Program

The comprehensive atmospheric monitoring program is a joint monitoring program between the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and ASPECT. The purpose of the program is to develop and demonstrate how infrared remote sensing techniques can be used to conduct atmospheric carbon dioxide monitoring. The program will also estimate possible carbon dioxide sources from city sized areas.

July 2014: Live Agent Field Exercise with National Guard’s 64th Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Civil Support Team (CST)

This field exercise is planned to take place in the Santa Fe area of New Mexico the week of July 14, 2014. The ASPECT Team will generate and disperse a chemical plume to simulate a chemical attack or fire, fly the target area and disseminate the data collected to the local decision makers. The locals will then send the 64th WMD CST to confirm the plume. They will also use the data to more accurately generate plume models.

The locals will be placing live radiological and nuclear sources, identify the approximate location, and request ASPECT to fly the area to identify and map the sources. In turn, the 64th WMD CST will use the ASPECT data to send in ground troops to confirm and secure the sources. This exercise will enhance the response capabilities of the EPA and WMD-CSTs, test communication and data transfer options.

October 2014: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Deployment

October 2014: U.S. Coast Guard Open House

October 2014: CBRNe Convergence Conference Open House

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Past Flights

  • Spring 2014: Grand Canyon Radiological Survey
  • Spring 2014: Boston Marathon Pre-Deployment
  • Winter 2014: Tournament of Roses Parade, Rose Bowl, and BCS National Championship Game
  • Winter 2013: 2013 Inauguration Pre-Deployment
  • Winter 2013: 2013 Chemical Background Survey of the National Capitol Region (DC, VA, MD)
  • Winter 2013: 2013 NFL Super Bowl
  • Spring 2013: Radiological and Infrared Survey of Westlake Landfill and Coldwater Creek
  • Spring 2013: West Fertilizer Explosion, West, TX
  • Summer 2013: 2013 Boy Scout of America Jamboree
  • Summer 2013: 64th Civil Support Team Regional CBRN Full Scale Field Exercise

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Aerial Survey Results Frequent Questions

Aerial Radiation Survey: Information to accompany Midnite Mine survey report (PDF) (3 pp, 247K)

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ASPECT in the Media

EPA plane detects radiation at West Lake landfill, will release findings Exit

ASPECT was featured in the Washington Times Exit.

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