Can you see the difference between traditional corn and bio-engineered corn? NASA technology is beginning to provide the answer in a snapshot.

The technology is called hyperspectral imaging. It uses a special camera to cut one snapshot into 120 color-specific images. Hyperspectral means getting many more images within the spectrum of just one picture. Each image shows a unique characteristic not visible to the human eye.

The hyperspectral camera and its applications were developed by the Institute for Technology Development at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss. The Institute is one of several NASA Research Partnership Centers managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) teamed with NASA to use the technology to ensure appropriate management practices are used to avoid the development of resistance in corn pest populations. Pest resistance could severely limit the continued use of these new varieties of corn. With more than 25 million acres of corn planted this year, it is physically and economically infeasible to sample each one. This new technology seeks to provide an active monitoring capability to inform the grower of pest resistance development. Early use of hyperspectral imaging provides the ability to distinguish between the two types of corn and identify pest infestation conditions. Bio-engineered corn has inserted genes to make the plant resistant to insects.

The EPA is using a small hyperspectral camera mounted on an aircraft. The aircraft flies at approximately 8,000 feet, imaging the same sites every 10 days during growing season. The images are put into a computer system, and data-mining techniques are used to extract information about the corn.

Source: Government Release