Principal Accomplishments

The development of the Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA) CubeSat is quickly progressing. Mass mockups of the deployed solar panels/ultra-high-frequency antennas have been completed.

  • In response to a U.S. Strategic Command need for space situational awareness (SSA), the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office tasked the Laboratory to build SensorSat, a microsatellite that will collect unresolved visible imagery of resident space objects in geosynchronous orbit from a novel low Earth orbit. SensorSat has completed its preliminary and critical design reviews and the second of several capability demonstrations.
  • Technology upgrades to the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Space Surveillance Telescope are nearing completion. An advanced wide-field camera focal plane array and camera electronics, in conjunction with a second-generation control and data processing system, are expected to double the telescope’s synoptic search rate while maintaining its detection sensitivity.
  • The Micro-sized Microwave Atmospheric Satellite-1 (MicroMAS-1) CubeSat, jointly developed by Lincoln Laboratory and MIT Space Systems Laboratory, was deployed from the International Space Station in March 2015 to begin its technology demonstration flight. MicroMAS-2 is being fabricated for a follow-on demonstration flight, incorporating lessons learned from MicroMAS-1.
  • Detailed design and testing of key flight hardware components of the Microwave Radiometer Technology Acceleration (MiRaTA) satellite have been completed. This joint effort between Lincoln Laboratory and MIT Space Systems Laboratory is a follow-on mission to MicroMAS-1 that will use a tri-band radiometer and global-positioning-system radio occultation technology in a 30 × 10 × 10 cm CubeSat to provide calibrated observations of atmospheric temperature, water vapor, and cloud ice.
  • Lincoln Laboratory continued to support the development and testing of the U.S. Air Force Space Fence radar system. In March 2015, the system completed its critical design review. The system’s capabilities were successfully demonstrated in a Laboratory-developed modeling and simulation environment. A plan for using test equipment to emulate space objects will enable early testing of the fully functional scaled prototype of the system.
  • Optically cued radar tracking and monitoring of high-interest objects on tactical timelines are now operational at the Millstone Hill radar, Advanced Research Projects Agency–Long-Range Tracking and Instrumentation Radar (ALTAIR), and Target Resolution and Discrimination Experiment (TRADEX) radar. Development of an automated processor for high-interest object monitoring will significantly increase the throughput of the radars and provide timely indications and warnings of space events.
  • Several studies and experiments were successfully conducted to evaluate the potential benefits of advanced sensor hardware, processing software, and operational techniques for improving U.S. SSA and satellite survivability. Various sensing modalities and opportunistic space events were leveraged to demonstrate new architectures and ways of creating decision support information.

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