Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1998-1999 index

Distributed January 26, 1999
Contact: Scott Turner

New low-risk opportunity

NASA grant makes Brown's remote-sensing capabilities available to firms

A NASA initiative to increase the competitiveness of U.S. firms will allow companies to advance their operations by using Brown University's remote sensing expertise without an exchange of funds.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Companies interested in using remote sensing data to enhance business operations could have a new business opportunity at Brown University. Brown has opened an Affiliated Research Center (ARC), part of a new NASA-supported program to explore innovative commercial applications for remote sensing technology.

In remote sensing, satellites or aircraft take surface measurements that illuminate unique properties and provide time-sensitive findings. The data helps scientists, researchers, companies and agencies involved in environmental monitoring and assessment, land-use planning, transportation design, agriculture and other fields.

Brown has supported technical and creative expertise in remote sensing since the 1970s. This year, new commercial satellites will begin to offer the highest-resolution remote sensing data available, with improved sensing at different wavelengths. These next generation systems will provide a significant improvement in technical capability.

"Combining the newest technologies with the latest geographical information and global positioning systems will create a range of new opportunities for commercial ventures," said Jack Mustard, assistant professor of geological sciences and remote sensing specialist. "Estimates are that demand for data and products from these systems will create an annual multibillion-dollar business."

Brown's ARC is supported by a three-year, $600,000 NASA grant. The funding will allow companies to make use of Brown's remote sensing expertise without an exchange of funds.

"We plan to transfer the technology to companies in the hope that it advances their operations," said Melanie Harlow, Brown's ARC project coordinator. Brown's ARC is now soliciting proposals from businesses. The proposals will be evaluated by a Brown-NASA team.

"If the goals and objectives in a proposal are consistent with Brown's, we will go ahead and link with the company," Harlow said. "It will be up to Brown to guide the project through the first hurdles." Each project will last no more than six months, she said.

Brown is one of nine universities nationwide - the only one in New England - to receive NASA funds to establish an ARC.

For more information, contact Harlow at (401) 863-3825; by fax at (401) 863-3978; by email at [email protected]; or by mail at Melanie Harlow, ARC Project Coordinator, Dept. of Geological Sciences, Box 1846, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.

Background on the remote-sensing project is available at and