May 2012 Photo Gallery

MMDS Project Briefing

MMDS Skymaster

The Marine Mammal Detection System (MMDS) is a light twin engine aircraft configured with high definition and long-range infrared sensors optimized for detecting and identifying marine mammals and other items of interest that can be detected via specially configured air-to-ground radar.

The system’s advanced surveillance capabilities to disseminate marine mammal detection and identification information in real time is designed to augment DoD, scientific, and environmental research. The real time link between the aircraft and the online application is achieved using onboard satellite communications.

Objective: The primary objective of the MMDS program was to develop a low cost highly efficient aircraft based detection and identification system that would dramatically improve upon the traditional method of eyesight/binocular detection. The automated radar guided electronic sensor system was designed to help environmental planners perform Marine Species Mitigation (MSM) in support of military training and testing operations, petroleum industry exploration, and national agencies that need marine mammal assessments.

A secondary objective is the development of an affordable ISR aircraft survey system that could be a viable commercial alternative to larger more expensive aircraft.

MMDS system

MMDS Overview: 

  • Aircraft - Cessna 337G Skymaster
  • Sensors - Surface Search Radar, Electro-Optic High Definition Camera, Infra-Red Camera, Ship Automated Information
  • System (AIS), and Satellite Communications/Data Link
  • Internet Application – Detection and identification data fusion and dissemination

Location:  St. Mary’s County Regional Airport, Maryland (2W6)

The search radar is used as a large area scanner designed to detect surfaced marine mammals as a cueing sensor for the collection of high resolution photographs and infrared imagery. Image data collected by the airborne platform can be down linked to the ground via the data link or stored for post processing. Image data has two standard formats: annotated JPEGs with date, time, geo-location and other significant collection parameters useful for scientific analysis; and KMZ format imagery wrapped and geo-coded into the ground plane for display within Google Earth freeware.

The image below demonstrates the capability of detecting marine mammals by search radar, then cueing the EO sensor for image collection. The annotated image includes date, time, geo-location of scene center and other metadata parameters needed for DCL analysis.

(Click On Image For Close-up)

MMDS proof of concept