From a USGS Announcement:
For the first time, about 70 percent of a country has been mapped using an advanced remote sensing technique known as hyperspectral imaging. In order to assist Afghanistan in understanding their abundant natural resources, in particular the development of an economically viable minerals market, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Defense Task Force for Business and Stability Operations led an effort to fully map Afghanistan with hyperspectral data.
Airborne hyperspectral sensors measure light reflected from the earth. The spectrum of the reflected light can be interpreted to identify the composition of materials at the surface, such as minerals, man-made materials, snow, and vegetation. These materials can be identified remotely due to their unique light spectra. In addition, these data allow large geographic areas to be mapped quickly and accurately, showing mineral resources, natural hazards, agricultural conditions and infrastructure development.
The project was funded by the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Afghan Government. The TFBSO is a Department of Defense organization that promotes stability and security in Afghanistan by developing growth of the private sector. The Task Force has been working closely with the Afghan Ministry of Mines to assist in identifying and tendering major mineral deposits to international mining companies.
In developing the maps, more than 800 million pixels of data were generated. Over the course of 43 days and 28 flights, USGS flew nearly 23,000 miles (37,000 kilometers), collecting data that covered approximately 170,000 square miles (440,000 square kilometers).
The hyperspectral data collected in Afghanistan have already allowed USGS and the Afghan Geological Survey to identify several areas with a high potential for mineral formations. These data are being used by the Afghan Government to develop information packages to support mineral development in the country.