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Local company aids oil spill

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MEGAN GRAY

The Ellis County Press

MIDLOTHIAN – The recent catastrophe with the British Petroleum oil spill where more than 30 million gallons of crude oil has been leaked along the Southern region coastlines since mid April, has a local Midlothian company on an average of two missions a day.

On Thursday, April 28 , the Environmental Protection Agency deployed ASPECT, a twin engine aircraft designed to assist in the collection of air sampling data and photo documentation of environmental incidents, to fly over the Gulf of Mexico to monitor the area.

Flying remote and inaccessible areas, critical data and geo-rectified digital images are sent via satellite uplink directly to the EPA Onsite Coordinator and US Government officials within five minutes.

Then the bulk of the data, images, infrared video and crew notes are downloaded after the aircraft lands.

Scientists stationed with the aircraft in Mississippi process the data and images are posted onto Google Earth within hours of the aircraft landing.

ASPECT, owned by Midlothian company ARRAE, is also collecting chemical data over the intentional burns being set by the United States Coast Guard to monitor for any harmful vapors.

ARRAE provides emergency aerial support as well as research and development test-platforms.

Since Thursday, April 28 ,approximately 200,000 digital images, 30,000 oblique digital images, 100 hours of video, 47GB of data, and 150,000 infrared images have been collected, processed, and posted to the public Web site.

Typical missions last 3 ½ to 4 hours with data collection occurring every two minutes.

Beorn Leger, David Wheeler, Rich Rosseau and Paul Fletcher, all Dallas area residents, are part of the flight crews maintaining vigilance over the actual spill and recovery efforts.

The ASPECT aircraft has been advised they will remain on duty in the Gulf until further notice.


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