Space Systems and Technology – Division 9

Millstone Hill radar at nightThe Space Systems and Technology Division develops sensors, technologies, and systems that help to strengthen national security. Focus areas are space control, persistent surveillance, and environmental monitoring. The division's work includes development of system concepts, hardware and software system demonstrations, and technology transfer to industry. The primary technology focuses are the application of new components and algorithms to enable sensors with greatly enhanced capabilities and the development of exploitation systems to extract actionable information from sensors and networks on operational timelines.

Groups


Group 91—Advanced Capabilities and Technologies
The Advanced Capabilities and Technologies Group develops technologies and techniques for space control and space surveillance missions, as well as for terrestrial applications. The group's principal efforts include (1) the development of novel optical interferometry systems for enhanced resolution and atmospheric mitigation; (2) the development of advanced satellite systems in support of the space surveillance mission; (3) operation of an extensive observational program utilizing optical space surveillance technology to search for and discover near-Earth asteroids at the Laboratory's field site near Socorro, New Mexico, (which has discovered more than 50% of the known asteroids in our solar system); and (4) advanced applications focused on data fusion and information extraction. The group's current research activities span a broad range of topics, including novel visible and infrared optical systems, optical interferometry, computational imaging and analytics, advanced image processing algorithms and techniques, and evaluation of technologies for new space systems. The group seeks researchers and technologists from a wide variety of disciplines including physics, astronomy, and mathematics, as well as the applied sciences, including electrical, mechanical, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering.

Group 92—Advanced Sensors and Techniques
The mission of the Advanced Sensors and Techniques Group is to develop and demonstrate tactically relevant space situational awareness (SSA) in support of space control. The group focuses on the techniques, operational concepts, and advanced sensor systems that are needed to obtain timely and predictive information about space objects.

The group's work is enabled by hands-on access to an operational network of space surveillance sensor systems. The group operates the Lincoln Space Surveillance Complex (LSSC), comprising the Millstone radar, Haystack Ultrawideband Satellite Imaging Radar (HUSIR), and the Haystack Auxiliary (HAX) radar. The group is also responsible for the space mission at the Reagan Test Site (RTS) on Kwajalein. The Lexington Space Situational Awareness Center (LSSAC) serves as a central mission-support center and data-fusion node, with data feeds from the entire Space Surveillance Network and prototype sensor systems, including the 3.5-meter Space Surveillance Telescope. These systems form a test range that is used to develop and demonstrate novel tactical SSA techniques, such as optics-cued radar search, high-interest object monitoring, high-value asset neighborhood watch, and new launch custody.

The group also develops advanced sensors and sensor concepts, including improvements to the LSSC and RTS radars. The group recently developed and built HUSIR, which, with its 8 GHz bandwidth and 3 mm wavelength, is the highest-resolution radar in the U.S. Space Surveillance Network. The group supports the government in the development of the Space Fence, a large space surveillance phased array radar system, and develops and demonstrates bistatic and multistatic radar technology for tactical search, custody, and characterization of space objects. 
These efforts are led by technical staff with expertise in sensor systems, exploitation techniques, and real-world operations. Staff members are focused on the most relevant problems, applying a vigilant understanding of threat scenarios and user needs and backing their analyses with measurements and experiments. The group seeks talented people with backgrounds in physical science, engineering, or applied mathematics, and interests in astrodynamics, experimental physics, software development, signal and image processing, electromagnetic analysis, RF technology, or system integration.

Group 93—Information Integration and Decision Support
Currently, more than 20,000 objects reside in Earth's orbit. Some of these objects are operational satellites performing critical civil, scientific, and military missions.  Tracking, monitoring, controlling, and defending these satellites are of key national interest. The Information Integration and Decision Support Group develops the mission-critical decision support tools needed to perform key functions, such as rapid event detection and dynamic scheduling of assets, in order to develop courses of action for the space warfighter. The decision support tools are enabled by the integration of information from various sensors, sources, and systems.

The focal point of the group’s activities resides in its data fusion and command-and-control software, which provides a real-time framework environment for (1) ensuring interoperability of several service-oriented-architecture (SOA) systems, (2) evaluating and operationalizing the contributions of new sensors and sources, and (3) developing and assessing the performance of new decision support algorithms by using live data. In addition, this software provides a simulation capability for Red/Blue exercises and event planning, operations, and training. The group seeks researchers from the physical sciences, including physics and mathematics, as well as from a wide range of applied disciplines, including electrical, computer, software, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering.

Group 95—Space Systems Analysis and Test
The Space Systems Analysis and Test Group identifies and evaluates threats to the United States' use of space for military, intelligence, civil, and commercial purposes. The group works with organizations in the U.S. space community to develop and critically examine concepts for reducing vulnerabilities to these identified threats. This work involves understanding the strengths and weaknesses of U.S. space-related systems, including the sensors and networks used to detect, track, and characterize objects in space and the infrastructure used to control and operate satellites. An important element of the group's work entails detailed modeling of the sensor, guidance, communication, and propulsion systems that make up a satellite. The group's activities further include formulating new ideas for space systems and on-orbit operations and assessment of the timelines, architectures, and decision-making processes for maintaining awareness of the space domain. The group seeks researchers from the physical sciences, including physics, mathematics, and chemistry, as well as from a wide range of applied disciplines, including electrical, computer, mechanical, chemical, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering.

Group 97—Applied Space Systems
The Applied Space Systems Group develops environmental monitoring electro-optical and infrared sensor systems for detecting and tracking natural and man-made phenomena. The group's activities include the extraction of target and feature information from airborne and spaceborne hyperspectral imagery; system support of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) environmental satellites in performance analysis and improvement of existing sensors and products; architecture definition and sensor development support for the next-generation NOAA satellite systems; and chemical detection sensor and system development. Work includes electro-optical and infrared sensor design, system and architecture analysis, signal processing, data analysis, and algorithm development. The group seeks physicists, astronomers, applied mathematicians, electrical engineers, computer engineers, and candidates with related experience who have an interest in developing cutting-edge space remote sensing technologies for future missions.

Group 99—Integrated Systems and Concepts
The Integrated Systems and Concepts Group specializes in the rapid development and demonstration of innovative optical system solutions to address difficult challenges facing the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, and other U.S. government entities. The group maintains broad expertise in electro-optical and infrared sensors, charge-coupled devices, focal plane arrays, ground/air/space electronics, image processing, video exploitation, and low–size/weight/power optical communications systems. The group leverages this core expertise to architect, prototype, build, and deploy hardware and software systems in support of mission needs. Emphasis is on working closely with end users to develop enabling concepts and then building and fielding integrated systems on responsive timelines. The group seeks self-motivated engineers and scientists with multidisciplinary skill sets and a passion for conceptualizing, designing, and building systems that address critical national needs.

 

top of page