DARPA moves to phase-two of MIST-LR long-range E/O imaging technology project

ARLINGTON, Va., 17 March 2013. U.S. military researchers have released a formal industry solicitation for the second phase of an initiative to enhance high-resolution, long-range geometric and 3-D electro-optical imaging technology for biometric and target identification.

Scientists at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., released a broad agency announcement last week for the second phase of the Military Imaging and Surveillance Technology - Long Range (MIST-LR) program, which seeks to build sensors for aircraft and ground vehicles that will allow for target characterization beyond the physical-aperture diffraction-limit of the receiver system. DARPA briefed industry on phase two of the MIST-LR program Friday.

In the program's second phase DARPA researchers are focusing on new electro-optical sensing methods based on computational imaging; synthetic-aperture imaging; digital holography; multi-static laser radar; angle-resolved imaging based on light transport analysis; and similar technologies to identify targets.

Optical imaging systems today can identify targets, but are limited by their sizes and operational ranges, DARPA officials explain. The physical aperture of the imaging receiver, the effects of atmospheric turbulence, performance of the receiver array, the power of the illumination source, and the image-formation algorithms are the primary defining characteristics of active imaging systems.

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The DARPA MIST-LR program seeks to push electro-optical sensor technology beyond today's state of the art. The program is in three parts, each focusing on a different platform and range to target. While each part represents a different effort, DARPA officials say MIST-LR technology will have common applications.

The first phase of the MIST-LR began last August, and should be complete by next month. The second phase will refine the system designs, develop critical technologies, and conduct a laboratory demonstration. A future third phase may develop brassboard and fieldable prototypes.

Important system characteristics for the program's second phase will focus on image resolution - 2D and 3D; system link-budget and image signal-to-noise ratio; image quality, contrast, and the ability for automated identification; maximum relative target motion; image acquisition and processing time; image field of regard and range depth; image size and coverage rate; image frame rate; transceiver targeting and steering; target recognition; differential scene motion for detection; system size, weight, and power requirements; compensation of turbulence effects; and manufacturability and affordability.

Companies interested should submit proposals no later than 30 April 2013. DARPA officials say they expect to make several contract awards. Email questions or concerns to DARPA at

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