By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Government
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency worked behind the scenes to track down the world's most wanted terrorist.
Behind a decades-long exhaustive effort to take down Osama Bin Laden is a secretive agency that probes the world from the skies above.
Before yesterday, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) was a rarely-mentioned arm of the U.S. government that supported military operations by analyzing images from highly-advanced satellites and spy aircraft. Now, the NGA will forever be remembered for helping to pinpoint the whereabouts of the world's most wanted terrorist.
While certain laws prohibit commercial satellites from taking close-up snapshots, it's generally believed that military and surveillance satellites are capable of photographing at much higher resolutions.
In 2007, Newsmax's Ronald Kessler gained access inside the NGA and wrote up a fascinating report on the sophisticated technology used to hunt down terrorists and keep Americans safe.
Here are some highlights of his report:
- Whenever a tip comes in about Bin Laden's whereabouts, NGA analysts examine satellite images of his purported location for clues.
- Using satellite imagery, NGA analysts can track a target's movement by zeroing on indicators such as tire tracks and campfire smoke and cross referencing what they find with older images.
- Agents use a wide range wavelengths within the electromagnetic spectrum to detect activity. For instance, they can determine what chemicals are present in a smoking build or locate crops being grown in the soil.
- The NGA can generate 3-D images to simulate what a pilot would encounter when flying into a mountainous area.
- To prepare for a military assault, agents can analyze the soil and terrain to map out the best entry points for helicopters and other military vehicles.
- Some of the NGA's contributions have included reinforcing the security team during the Winter Olympics; surveying damage from hurricanes; and mapping a safe route for transporting Patriot missile batteries across a hazardous location in Iraq.
To learn more, read the full report on NewsMax's website. I highly recommend it.
Image: CIA handout, Digital Globe
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May 2, 2011
The images that were suppose to show that Iraq was manufacturing chemical weapons, in portable laboratories. Or the aluminum tubes, for creating nuclear weapons? Or the photos of the hidden sites, where materials for nuclear weapons, were being produced? Satellite technology, Yeah Right.
I saw the Beast, two of its legs standing in the raging, purple sea, two of its legs on the bone dry, scourged land, trampling, drowning men, women and children as well. Fiery orange-red the Beast was, with seven heads like the leopard???s, with cruel mouths like the dragon???s, ten crooked horns like the he-goat???s. It???s seven tails with heads like snakes, were twisting, squirming, hissing, coiling, spitting venom like the cobra, flashing back and forth like striking lightning. Two of its heads were mortally wounded by the King of the North in snow white robes of the finest wool from the innocent lamb and all the world hailed and praised the king. But as I watched and gazed I saw the heads of the beast, hanging, dangling down by the skin, yet, they were healed as by supernatural powers, speaking lies and threats even greater than before. And the King was struck by the poisonous fangs of the snakes and perished fast but with very much pain and utter shame, and another King came up from the Land of the North to fight the Beast but... to never prevail as well...
Back in the days of the Cold War the Soviets used mobile launch platforms for ICBM's. The US got intelligence that most of the trucks were empty and acting as decoys. One of the predecessors of the NGA took a look at the tracks in the ground and was able to spot the decoys by how deep the impressions were. The rumor is that they could tell what kind of cigarette you were smoking by reading the labels on the pack and the cigarette itself.
There's been a variety of rumors over the years about the abilities of satellites that collide with the physics of light transmission over long distances. No matter how good a lens you have, images are distorted by the atmosphere. The Russians continue to have 18 Topol M ICBMs on mobile truck launchers according to the Wiki article on the subject.