US: Arizona State University (ASU) archaeologist Stephen H. Savage gathered information about Khirbat en-Nahas – a major copper mining and smelting site in Jordan, using remote sensing (RS) technology – Hyperion’s spectroscopic abilities. Hyperspectral instrument called Hyperion is aboard NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite.
Located in an inhospitable valley in Jordan, the area has yielded to Savage and his team evidence of sophisticated economic and political activity dating back about 3,000 years. At the outset, Savage planned to use Hyperion to detect the light signature of copper smelting slag, thus locating more smelting sites near Khirbat en-Nahas. But as he worked with the data, he discovered new possibilities.
“Hyperion has really opened up a whole new avenue of analysis that we hadn’t even explored before,” Savage said. “I can tell you where in the area the ore is coming from; which parts of the site were used for smelting and which were not and that different parts of the site were drawing ore from different regions.”
Gathering such information via field work would be exorbitant in terms of money and time, but all Savage has to do is log in to a website, target his area of interest on a map, and click his mouse. That tells the satellite to aim its instruments at the site as it passes over.
Initially designed to try out new technologies, the Earth Observing-1 satellite has morphed into a remote-user test lab for pioneering efforts like Savage’s.