If you sometimes get the uncanny feeling that someone’s keeping a constant watch over you, rather than being another madhouse inmate, you might in fact be correct. And what seems to be the next futuristic technology from DARPA, the mythical “eye in the sky” is almost over us now, literally.
The MOIRE (Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation) project seems to come straight out of a Steven Spielberg movie and is capable of providing real-time videos and pictures of any place on the planet anytime. Bell Aerospace is helping DARPA on this ambitious project and working under a whooping contract of US $43.5 million, it has already designed a prototype lightweight satellite with a huge flexible membrane with diffusion optics. So let’s check out this new spy in the sky.
MOIRE project: Advanced spy satellites in the making
The spy satellites at DoD’s disposal can at best produce still images with outstanding resolution in most cases. But when it comes to live video surveillance, say from an ICBM missile launch site, somewhere in North Korea, the DoD honchos do have a hard time. This is because spy satellites move too fast to take surveillance videos and the only solution is to send up geosynchronous spy satellites with arrays of optics to capture live videos from 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface.
However, such attempts in the past have not been entirely successful. Enter the lightweight satellite with a huge flexible membrane with a diffractive pattern that would function as a space telescope. It’s hard to imagine such a telescope, with three times an aperature that of NASA’s next generation James Webb Space telescope, floating in space, watching what cereals you have for breakfast.
A satellite telescope for space-based surveillance
Once fully operational, DARPA’s “eye in the sky” would be able to track objects, vehicles, and projectiles moving with speeds of up to 60mph. So as other high powered telescopes go looking for new stars, this one is for space-based surveillance. In simple terms, DARPA would no longer need whole packs of drones to spy on rogue nations and their deadly arsenals, as they will have live-streaming videos akin to 24-hour channels for all of them.
What’s more, it can even image an area greater than 100 km X 100 km with a video update rate of one frame per sec. So the next time you look up at the sky, just know that there might be someone up there getting an eagle’s eye view of you!