The HLD-OSD 1000 dual-sensor oil spill detection system is one of the most effective oil spill detection tools yet devised.
It works with two different technologies, X-band radar and thermal imaging camera. Oil floating on the sea surface becomes visible on radar images because it damps the short gravity-capillary waves that are responsible for the radar backscattering. Utilizing Bragg scattering theory, the Highlander OSD radar detects oil dependably to a range of about 4 nautical miles.
Thermal imaging complements radar detection. Since oil emits less energy than surrounding water of the same temperature, an IR thermal imager of sufficient resolution and sensitivity reveals floating masses of oil and is used to measure thicknesses. Knowing thickness values makes it possible to dispatch cleanup vessels to the worst parts of the spill first.