DARPA is developing a massive space camera to stream live video from the battlefield
If you’re paranoid about eyes in the sky, a new project from the Pentagon’s zaniest department sure isn’t going to help you sleep at night. The Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (better known as DARPA) is at work developing a video-capable spacecraft that would peer down on Earth in high resolution — and in real time.
Plenty of satellites are already equipped with extremely powerful cameras pointed at the surface of the Earth, but capturing video presents an interesting dilemma. Unlike normal photo-snapping spacecraft which lurk in low altitudes, a satellite like DARPA is after would need to hang out about 22,000 miles away from Earth, lest it move too fast to capture video. DARPA is researching a satellite that would enter into geosynchronous orbit with the Earth, meaning that it would appear to stay in exactly the same place to an observer on the ground.
To field the idea, DARPA is looking to Ball Aerospace in a futuristic “membrane optics” proof of concept design worth $37 million. In theory, such a satellite would enter its ideal orbit and then open up a massive 66′ space lens in the form of a flexible membrane. If executed, the massive aperture would be able to capture live streaming video of the battlefield, with a resolution high enough to spot ground objects like missile launchers. While the membrane optics telescope remains a concept design, many of DARPA’s wildest dreams do have a habit of coming true (the agency’s deep pockets certainly don’t hurt). And if this particular dream is realized, the telescope of the Pentagon’s dreams might just revolutionize modern warfare as we know it.
This article originally appeared on Tecca
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