Risk
3/13/2012
03:09 PM
50%
50%

DOD Proposes Disposable Satellites To Aid Soldiers

DARPA's SeeMe program aims to use small disposable satellites to provide soldiers in remote locations with images of their surrounding terrain.

NASA's Blue Marble: 50 Years Of Earth Imagery
NASA's Blue Marble: 50 Years Of Earth Imagery
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to add new satellite technology to its efforts to create better communications for warfighters in remote locations.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on small, disposable satellites that will give soldiers images of their surrounding location via handheld mobile devices, according to the agency. This information is often difficult for them to access from remote locations with limited satellite coverage.

The Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements (SeeMe) program aims to create constellations of up to two dozen satellites, each lasting 60 to 90 days in orbit not far above the earth, according to the agency. After their useful time is up, the satellites will de-orbit and burn up without leaving space debris.

Soldiers will use handheld devices to communicate with the satellites, basically pressing a button requesting that a satellite "see me" to download location images in less than 90 minutes, according to DARPA.

[ DARPA is very active in developing satellite technology. Read DARPA Seeks Satellite Programs That Stick. ]

To keep the cost of the satellites to $500,000 apiece or less, DARPA aims to use off-the shelf components--such as those used by the mobile phone industry--to develop the technology, said DARPA program manager Dave Barnhart in a statement. It also aims to develop advanced optics, power, propulsion and communications technologies to keep the size and weight of the satellites down, he said.

SeeMe will be a companion technology to the DOD's use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide location information and images for soldiers, but which are limited by the aircrafts' need to refuel, Barnhart said.

"With a SeeMe constellation, we hope to directly support warfighters in multiple deployed overseas locations simultaneously with no logistics or maintenance costs beyond the warfighters' handhelds," he said.

To meet potential bidders and generate ideas about how to proceed with the project and meet its low-cost and development goals, DARPA will hold an industry day on March 27.

DARPA already has a number of satellite projects under way, and SeeMe may leverage one--the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA)--that's developing a better launch system for small satellite payloads, the agency said. Typically, smaller satellites must hitch rides on rockets carrying larger satellite payloads, but the agency wants to build a dedicated system for rapid and less expensive launch of payloads under 100 pounds.

SeeMe joins other DARPA efforts aimed at giving soldiers in remote locations better communications capabilities. DARPA recently unveiled a pair of wireless networking projects to that end--one called Mobile Hotspots to create a scalable, mobile, millimeter-wave communications backbone, and another called Fixed Wireless at a Distance to build a fixed-mobility infrastructure to connect limited-range warzone mobile networks to provide more reliable mobile device coverage.

InformationWeek's 2012 Government IT Innovators program will feature the most innovative government IT organizations in the 2012 InformationWeek 500 issue and on InformationWeek.com. Does your organization have what it takes? The nomination period for 2012 Government IT Innovators closes April 27.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading Tech Digest, Dec. 19, 2014
Software-defined networking can be a net plus for security. The key: Work with the network team to implement gradually, test as you go, and take the opportunity to overhaul your security strategy.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8142
Published: 2014-12-20
Use-after-free vulnerability in the process_nested_data function in ext/standard/var_unserializer.re in PHP before 5.4.36, 5.5.x before 5.5.20, and 5.6.x before 5.6.4 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted unserialize call that leverages improper handling of duplicate keys w...

CVE-2013-4440
Published: 2014-12-19
Password Generator (aka Pwgen) before 2.07 generates weak non-tty passwords, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to guess the password via a brute-force attack.

CVE-2013-4442
Published: 2014-12-19
Password Generator (aka Pwgen) before 2.07 uses weak pseudo generated numbers when /dev/urandom is unavailable, which makes it easier for context-dependent attackers to guess the numbers.

CVE-2013-7401
Published: 2014-12-19
The parse_request function in request.c in c-icap 0.2.x allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via a URI without a " " or "?" character in an ICAP request, as demonstrated by use of the OPTIONS method.

CVE-2014-2026
Published: 2014-12-19
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the search functionality in United Planet Intrexx Professional before 5.2 Online Update 0905 and 6.x before 6.0 Online Update 10 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the request parameter.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join us Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to hear what employers are really looking for in a chief information security officer -- it may not be what you think.