Russian scientists and engineers are developing new state-of-the-art Earth remote sensing technologies that can fly on its Resurs series of satellites, in order to pinpoint farms that are growing illegal crops. These high resolution hyper-spectrometer instruments would be able to identify drug crops to within one meter, Russia Today (RT) reported Oct. 11th.
The spectrometers, with 196 channels, or spectral lines, that can be measured, would be able to effectively discriminate between different plant species. "Plants, in composition, are slightly different, and, therefore, can be identified in different regions of the...[electromagnetic] spectrum," Andrei Shokol, director of the Russian Research Center for Earth Operative [Observation] Monitoring, told RT. U.S. technologies have focused on tracking the activites and infrastructure of Latin American drug cartels, to help interdiction. This system would zoom in on finding the crops in the fields.
It is estimated, RT reports, that more than 30,000 people die every year in Russia due to illegal drugs. They estimate that Afghan farmers produce 90% of the world's heroin.