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DARPA seeks to develop optics for space-based video surveillance system

Posted by John Keller

ARLINGTON, Va., 28 Feb. 2010. Astronomers at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., plan to develop a large, diffractive optics membrane and communications equipment for a geosynchronous orbit-based telescope, which is to be part of a space-based video surveillance system.

DARPA is inviting companies interested in helping with this project to an industry day at 7:30 a.m. 12 March at the Westfields Washington Dulles Marriott in Chantilly, Va. The registration cutoff date is 9 March 2010.

The program is called Membrane Optic Imager Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE), for which DARPA officials say they will issue a broad agency announcement (BAA) soon. The proposers day 12 March is to outline the MOIRE program vision, goals, and opportunities. Attendance is voluntary.

The MOIRE program seeks to provide persistent, real-time, tactical video to the war fighter, and developing diffractive membrane optics could help pave the way to low-cost geosynchronous imaging, DARPA scientists believe.

Ultimately, DARPA wants to develop a 20-meter system providing 24/7 visible National Imagery Interpretability Rating Scale (NIIRS) 3.5+ coverage over denied areas with at least a 1 Hz rate, a field of view larger than 60 square miles, with a cost less than $500 million each. Phase-3 of the MOIRE program will develop a 10-meter diffractive membrane.

The future MOIRE program BAA will seek industry proposals that address large, inexpensive, lightweight, deployable, diffractive membrane optics for geosynchronous orbit imaging systems; near real time image stabilization and tactical geolocation knowledge; a telescope design that increases spectral bandwidth; stability and dynamics of the large structure in geosynchronous orbit; and target motion detection capability for highway speeds.

Register for the MOIRE proposers day online at Address questions or concerns by e-mail to BAA10-51@DARPA.MIL.

The Westfields Washington Dulles Marriott is at 14750 Conference Center Dr., Chantilly, Va. 20151. More information is online at


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