Risk
3/13/2012
03:09 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
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, September 16, 2014
Malicious software is morphing to be more targeted, stealthy, and destructive. Are you prepared to stop it?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2006-1318
Published: 2014-09-19
Microsoft Office 2003 SP1 and SP2, Office XP SP3, Office 2000 SP3, Office 2004 for Mac, and Office X for Mac do not properly parse record lengths, which allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a malformed control in an Office document, aka "Microsoft Office Control Vulnerability."

CVE-2012-2588
Published: 2014-09-19
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in MailEnable Enterprise 6.5 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via the (1) From, (2) To, or (3) Subject header or (4) body in an SMTP e-mail message.

CVE-2012-6659
Published: 2014-09-19
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the admin interface in Phorum before 5.2.19 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted URL.

CVE-2014-1391
Published: 2014-09-19
QT Media Foundation in Apple OS X before 10.9.5 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (memory corruption and application crash) via a crafted movie file with RLE encoding.

CVE-2014-3614
Published: 2014-09-19
Unspecified vulnerability in PowerDNS Recursor (aka pdns_recursor) 3.6.x before 3.6.1 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (crash) via an unknown sequence of malformed packets.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio