DARPA’s mirror-killing membrane could change astronomy, allow total global surveillance
2013 12 06

By Graham Templeton | Extreme Tech



When it launches in 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope will let us see deeper into the universe than ever before. Its enormous eye is centered around 18 octagonal mirrors which assemble to form the largest telescope mirror ever built, but someday even the James Webb Telescope (formerly the Next-Gen Space Telescope) will outlive its usefulness — and then what will we do? The obvious answer is to launch an even more advanced telescope, one with an even bigger mirror that can focus on even more distant or difficult light. There’s just one problem: given the costs and practical barriers to launching objects into space, it’s very possible that in this case simply going bigger may be impossible.

That’s where DARPA comes in. The agency has always liked playing smarter — rather than harder — and has a stated goal of allowing its government to view any point on the planet, instantly and in real-time. That being the case, they needed to develop a way of launching surveillance satellites much more cheaply. DARPA has looked into everything from satellite miniaturization to Hyperloop style drone throwers, but a satellite’s mirror is the hardest part to launch in most cases. In a move sure to excite cash-strapped astronomers and terrify nervous libertarians, DARPA now says it could have a way around that problem, making high-fidelity space cameras much quicker and cheaper to launch.

View the video below for a quick artist’s rendering.



Called MOIRE, or Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation, the project looks to replace one of the heaviest and most troublesome elements in astronomy. Rather than using enormous mirrors or thick, dense lenses to reflect or refract the light into a collector, MOIRE uses membranes about as thick as kitchen plastic wrap to diffract light onto the satellite’s collector. MOIRE will launch in a compact state, its version of a mirror mounted on the front in the form of folded, concentric “petals” of this membrane. When the mission reaches its destination, these petals will unfold into huge sails, providing a focusing element larger than any mirror could realistically be.

[...]

There’s no word on the costs of actually manufacturing the membrane, but since its primary functional element is the etching rather than the material itself, this could bring down the costs of satellite manufacturing, as well. Independent teams are already launching small satellites; what if those small satellites could carry a membrane of a size with Hubble’s mirror? More to the point, if a team of enthusiasts could do that with a few hundred thousand dollars, what could a national space agency do with a few hundred million? What could DARPA do with several billion, or its military masters with even more?

Read the full article at: extremetech.com




Related Articles
Revealed: The Surveillance Industrial Complex
White House: NSA Surveillance Transparency Would Be Too Much Work
Seattle police (allegedly) deactivate surveillance system after public outrage
TSA To Roll Out "Covert Surveillance" Vans
Americans need more protection from NSA surveillance: committee chairman
Obama stops NSA spying on IMF and World Bank
DARPA envisions troops controlling platforms with their minds
Mind Control: DARPA works on reading brains in real time
DARPA Wants a Searchable Database of All Your Conversations
DARPA’s 1.8 Gigapixel ARGUS-IS: World’s Highest Resolution Surveillance System


Latest News from our Front Page

Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
2014 11 21
Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’
2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies. “GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row
2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...
Forty Years that Unmade France
2014 11 21
Eric Zemmour is a well-known French author and television personality. Of Algerian-Jewish origin, he may seem an unlikely spokesman for French tradition, but he has emerged in recent years as a prominent scourge of ideological orthodoxy. He is unquestionably the most prominent mainstream French commentator who speaks candidly about race. Eric Zemmour This role comes with a price. In 2011 he was ...
Richard Spencer Under Fire
2014 11 21
The Flathead Beacon has a story on the mobbing of Richard Spencer consequent to the publicity over the Budapest conference. The city council is being asked to “an ordinance barring hate-group activities in the community.” As several of the comments note, the First Amendment seems to be of no concern to these activists. The article is interesting ...
More News »