NASA Develops Enhanced Search and Rescue Technologies
Released on May 24, 2010
The Search and Rescue Mission Office at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, in collaboration with NOAA, Coast Guard, Air Force, and other U.S. agency partners, has developed new technology that will more quickly identify the locations of people in distress and reduce the risk to rescuers. Called the Distress Alerting Satellite System (DASS), this next-generation search and rescue system reduces search times from hours to a few minutes. When it goes online, DASS will be able to almost instantaneously detect and locate distress signals generated by 406 MHz beacons installed on aircraft and vessels or carried by individuals, greatly enhancing the international community's ability to rescue people in distress.
This animation depicts how the current Search and Rescue system works. When an emergency beacon is activated, it transmits a distress signal that is received by NOAA weather satellites (GOES and POES) equipped with Search and Rescue repeaters. That signal is then relayed to Search and Rescue authorities. This technology was originally developed by NASA in the 1970's.
This animation depicts the next-generation search and rescue system, the DASS. Under this system, the instruments used to relay the emergency beacon signals will be installed on the U.S. military's Global Position System (GPS), a constellation of 24 spacecraft operating in mid-Earth orbits. When one emergency signal goes off at least four satellites will be in view and Search and Rescue authorities can begin processing the signal to determine its precise location almost instantly.
Interview with Dennis Clements, rescued at sea thanks to Search and Rescue system.Dennis Clements was rescued from the waters off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on January 2nd, 2010, after his sailboat was damaged in a storm. The severe weather automatically set off the ship's emergency beacon, an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). The resulting distress signal was received by the SARSAT (Search and Rescue Satellite) System, initiating a rescue effort by United States Coast Guard and Navy.
B-Roll: The Search and Rescue Mission Office at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, including video demonstrating the ability to view and map rugged terrain in 3-D, which aids rescue efforts in mountainous regions.