NNSA Recognizes the Multispectral Thermal Imager Satellite for a Decade of Innovative Science

Press Release
Mar 12, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today commemorated the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Multispectral Thermal Imager (MTI) satellite.

The MTI satellite project was an inter-laboratory effort to develop and evaluate advanced space-based technology used for nonproliferation treaty monitoring and other national security and civilian applications.

“The MTI satellite project is a terrific example of how NNSA and the Department of Energy leverage the best science and engineering in the world to advance nonproliferation efforts and promote national security,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “The multi-laboratory team has consistently demonstrated the critical role our national laboratories play in tackling the most challenging problems facing our nation and the world.”

The project was executed by NNSA’s Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories and DOE’s Savannah River National Laboratory.  The project also included participation from the Air Force Research Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Ball Aerospace, Santa Barbara Research Center, Hughes Danbury Optical Systems, TRW, over 40 other commercial and academic institutions in 16 states, and a users group with experimenters representing over 50 government organizations.

Launched on March 12, 2000, by the United States Air Force from Vandenberg Air Force Base through the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program, MTI has collected thousands of images in support of a wide variety of research in the national interest.  The program achieved many firsts in satellite engineering and remote sensing science.

Originally planned for a three-year mission, the satellite continues to collect useful scientific data more than seven years after its design end-of-life.  The team of engineers and operators has overcome a variety of spacecraft anomalies throughout the satellite’s life to extend its operations and even increase the quantity of data it collects.

MTI is supported by NNSA’s nonproliferation research and development efforts, which reduce the threat to national security posed by nuclear weapons proliferation, detonation or trafficking through the long-term development of new technology. Using the unique facilities and scientific skills of NNSA and Department of Energy national laboratories, and in partnership with industry and academia, R&D program efforts provide the technical base for national and homeland security agencies to meet their nonproliferation, counter proliferation, and counterterrorism responsibilities.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371