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DARPA's New Hi-Tech Telescope

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the shiny-new-toys dept.

Space 89

coondoggie writes "You can bet that if there are little red aliens running around on Mars, or spaceships patrolling other planets in our solar system for that matter, a recently powered-up telescope built by researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency might just be able to see them. The Air Force, which operates the DARPA-developed Space Surveillance Telescope says the telescope's design, featuring unique image-capturing technology known as a curved charge coupled device system, as well as very wide field-of-view, large-aperture optics, doesn't require the long optics train of a more traditional telescopes."

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Uh huh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812182)

Yeah, it's for looking out into space. Yeeah... that's the ticket.

I wonder what the Air Force needs to track... (3, Insightful)

PmanAce (1679902) | about 3 years ago | (#35812248)

Will this be exclusive to Men in Black or will scientists be able to use this wonder as well?

Re:I wonder what the Air Force needs to track... (4, Informative)

deathcow (455995) | about 3 years ago | (#35812296)

Air Force has huge departments dedicated to space.
http://www.afspc.af.mil/units/index.asp

They manage GPS satellites as well as scan the skies and catalog 10's of thousands of pieces of space debris.

Re:I wonder what the Air Force needs to track... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 years ago | (#35813550)

They manage GPS satellites as well as scan the skies and catalog 10's of thousands of pieces of space debris.

If you think the US Air Force's space initiatives are about "cataloging space debris", I've got a HAARP facility in Alaska that I'm willing to sell you, cheap.

Re:I wonder what the Air Force needs to track... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#35813904)

If you think the US Air Force's space initiatives are about "cataloging space debris", I've got a HAARP facility in Alaska that I'm willing to sell you, cheap.

They do need to track space debris if they're going to launch [more] weapons into it. Also, since you mention HAARP, it could theoretically be used to move pieces of it around... Of course, I think we both know that if you're in charge of tracking space debris then you also are in a great position to track everyone's satellites... Or ICBMs.

Re:I wonder what the Air Force needs to track... (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | about 3 years ago | (#35823268)

If you think the US Air Force's space initiatives are about "cataloging space debris", I've got a HAARP facility in Alaska that I'm willing to sell you, cheap.

They do need to track space debris if they're going to launch [more] weapons into it.

Surely ... wouldn't it be more effective to launch the [weapons, telescopes, whatever] around or past the debris, rather than launching directly into the debris?

OK, perhaps if you're trying to "shoot up" (rather than "shoot down") a particular piece of space debris, then this might be an effective way of doing it, but for the more general case, it's not going to be terribly helpful.

(/humour)

Re:I wonder what the Air Force needs to track... (1)

piripiri (1476949) | about 3 years ago | (#35812500)

Yeah they'll generously offer it to the science field in fifteen years when it'll be obsolete.

acronym fail? (3, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 3 years ago | (#35812266)

Curved Charged Coupled Device? Wouldn't that be CCCD?

Re:acronym fail? (4, Funny)

FSWKU (551325) | about 3 years ago | (#35812370)

It was originally going to be "Curved Charged Coupled Photoreceptor"...but then someone realized that might send the wrong message...

Re:acronym fail? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35812710)

And how did they get charge to curve?

Sounds very General Relativistic.

Only way to do that on that scale is supermassive micro black hole.

So that is what the LHC was built to manufacture!

Re:acronym fail? (1)

confused one (671304) | about 3 years ago | (#35815106)

no no no... The microscopic black holes made by the LHC are going to be used to power the new battle platforms DARPA is preparing to launch into space.

Re:acronym fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35815222)

"Sounds very General Relativistic."

I've always loved his superhero costume.

Joking? (3, Insightful)

wcrowe (94389) | about 3 years ago | (#35812392)

You can bet that if there are little red aliens running around on Mars...

You're joking, right? That telescope is going to be pointed at little humans of all colors running around on Earth.

Re:Joking? (0)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#35812420)

That telescope is going to be pointed at little humans of all colors running around on Earth.

Phew! For a minute there I thought they were going to be racist about their surveillance!

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812466)

Are you saying we are both races of the same species?

Re:Joking? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#35812532)

Both? I mean, I know that race has no scientific basis, but surely whatever system you use includes more than two? Or is it just "us" and "them"?

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812848)

race has no scientific basis

That is incorrect. In fact, I don't get why it still gets tossed around. Here is a blog post [blogspot.com] which goes more in-depth, but it really shouldn't be too obvious that it is false. After all, different races/ethnic groups have different rates of genetic diseases, and there are most certainly other genetic variations which between groups groups (which must be accounted for in GWAS studies). The papers I've seen saying there are no races have usually made their on small population sizes and unrealistic hurdles as to what qualifies a population as a race.

Re:Joking? (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#35813094)

It's "tossed around" because of things like the average American "black" having 1/3 of their genes coming from European ancestors. Do they have a "race"? What about Obama? Does he have a "race"? If you posit that he's 50% "black" and 50% "white", then what of his children? They have a mother with some undetermined amount of European and African ancestry. How many generations do you try to keep track of? How many do you go back with? Do you have some kind of a genetic or physical test that can determine his "race" with any kind of scientific rigor?

Even that chart you linked has all sorts of little red marks in the supposed purple "race". So yes, you can say things like "people with an ancestor from x region are more likely to have y trait". But that is worlds different from being able to toss people into categories. All it takes is for one of those ancestors with y trait to walk over to another part of the world and mate to throw off your classification system... that's not of very much use.

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35813666)

It's "tossed around" because of things like the average American "black" having 1/3 of their genes coming from European ancestors. Do they have a "race"? What about Obama? Does he have a "race"? If you posit that he's 50% "black" and 50% "white", then what of his children? They have a mother with some undetermined amount of European and African ancestry. How many generations do you try to keep track of? How many do you go back with? Do you have some kind of a genetic or physical test that can determine his "race" with any kind of scientific rigor?

Even that chart you linked has all sorts of little red marks in the supposed purple "race". So yes, you can say things like "people with an ancestor from x region are more likely to have y trait". But that is worlds different from being able to toss people into categories. All it takes is for one of those ancestors with y trait to walk over to another part of the world and mate to throw off your classification system... that's not of very much use.

Yes because Americans are the majority of the world population. America is a fucking anomaly compared to the rest of the world. It's the only place where races intermingle anymore. The rest of the world will be glad when America is dead and anyone who != their_native_race is dead too. Especially the Europeans. They've been on this path for like 500 years.

Re:Joking? (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#35814074)

It's the only place where races intermingle anymore.

I still don't know how you define "race" - but you are completely wrong. People in the mountains of India look partly Chinese. People in far eastern Russia look partly Chinese. South America is almost completely racially mixed. The Caribbean is almost completely mixed. Even in Africa, you will see a wide range of skin colors that clearly indicates a mixed heritage.

anyone who != their_native_race is dead too

First you'd have to tell me exactly what a native race is? What arbitrary point in time do you choose to freeze the "races". Is it 600 years ago prior to the European explorations? Is it 1300 years ago when the Muslims conquered Spain? Is it 2000 years ago when the Greeks were intermingling with the Egyptians and the Jews were in Ethiopia?

Take a look at this graphic [wikipedia.org] and tell me what point in time you decided to freeze human migration and declare the races pure. Careful! If you go back 35,000 years you eliminate Native Americans as a race altogether. And if you freeze history 50,000 years ago you won't have any Europeans! But go ahead, keep trying to lump people into arbitrary bins based on their various features if it makes you feel better. Personally, I think green eyes should stay the hell away from blue eyes. God made 'em different races, after all. And since there is a genetic basis to eye color, my completely arbitrary classification must be scientific!

Re:Joking? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35814736)

First you'd have to tell me exactly what a native race is? What arbitrary point in time do you choose to freeze the "races". Is it 600 years ago prior to the European explorations? (...) And if you freeze history 50,000 years ago you won't have any Europeans!

Not that I'm siding with the racists but your logic that we can't find a purebred human is a bit like saying we can't find a purebred dog. Except we clearly have a standard of "races" and "mixed breeds" there, even though they all at some point come from domesticated wolves over the last 15000 years. I also think many would agree that some breeds are smarter and easier to train than others, that it's not just the same mind in the body of everything from a Chihuahua to a Great Dane.

Pretty much all we humans have done with regards to domestication of dogs, cats and other farm animals shows that strong selective breeding pressure works. I think it's a bit of denial to dispute that if we applied the same to ourselves we couldn't significantly alter the human race, inside and outside. Even just the few centuries of slavery where only the strong were picked, survived and bred have led to quite measurable differences between Afro-Americans and Africans.

Eugenics is the exact opposite of "all men are created equal", it's saying that from birth some of us are more desirable and others less desirable. That some of us should breed and others don't. You don't have to go far to find it, every time the word idiocracy is mentioned someone is on it. It's just a bit more politically correct to use intelligence rather than skin color as deciding factor, if you find any correlation though then hell is loose.

Not to casually talk about genocide, but the logic is to trim the evolutionary tree much like when you trim a physical tree. It's not because it is a dead branch, but because it leaves the other branches with more room and nourishment to grow. The idea is to go beyond natural selection and into self-selection, being our own gardener. Except that tree branches don't fight back and doesn't leave the same kind of bloody mess.

Re:Joking? (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#35818322)

can't find a purebred human is a bit like saying we can't find a purebred dog.

Dog breeding is similar, but different. First of all, you would never buy a "purebred" dog unless the breeder could produce a certificate proving such. That's because I could conceivably breed a golden retriever with an "unpure" dog and get something that looks just like a golden retriever. Thus, a dog "breed" is really just a paper trail and a group of similar features. Most dogs don't have a breed at all - they are mutts. So the whole concept of "breeds" is only useful for the select few who either want or need a specific kind of dog. I'm actually glad you brought up wolves... those are the natural state of dogs. Are there purebred wolves walking around?

Where dogs differ is that the different breeds of dogs differ in ways that are much greater than the ways humans differ. Hell, a Chihuahua and a Great Dane probably can't physically even mate. There is no human analogue.

I also think many would agree that some breeds are smarter and easier to train than others, that it's not just the same mind in the body of everything from a Chihuahua to a Great Dane.

Right, but again you have a high amount of "purity" in dogs. Every Great Dane can have a similar temperament, because the original population of Great Danes was very very small. This is also why purebred dogs have so many genetic disorders - the gene pool is far too shallow. You can find similar human population on islands an such, but in general humans intermingle far too much to make generalizations about temperament and such. If there is strong selection pressure on a population in isolation, sure, humans are just as susceptible as dogs - though we don't get to reproductive age as fast so the effect is much slower. Humans have a knack for getting around, though.

Even just the few centuries of slavery where only the strong were picked, survived and bred have led to quite measurable differences between Afro-Americans and Africans.

I'd love to see your source on this. Don't you think this has just a little to do with the inter-mating with Europeans? Many of Thomas Jefferson's descendants are black, and he was not even an anomaly. How many white masters had teenage sons and female slaves? How many white masters were themselves consorting with a female slave? It was quite common.

It's just a bit more politically correct to use intelligence rather than skin color as deciding factor, if you find any correlation though then hell is loose.

I wouldn't ever try to argue that you will not find common traits correlate. But then this correlation is not very useful, because you'd still have to test for the trait if you actually wanted to do something. As a simple example, if science finds a correlation between math aptitude and folds at the corners of your eyes (Asian-style), you'd still be an idiot to hire a math teacher based on their race.

Not to casually talk about genocide, but the logic is to trim the evolutionary tree much like when you trim a physical tree.

Even if you agree with the concept, I've seen enough horribly pruned trees in my neighborhood to know that humans suck at predicting what should get cut and what should stay. In the long term, natural selection will do a far better job of keep us fit for our environment. In my opinion, people would "prune" the gene pool so that it resembled themselves... naturally, they are the most "fit".

Re:Joking? (4, Informative)

piripiri (1476949) | about 3 years ago | (#35812464)

You can bet that if there are little red aliens running around on Mars...

You're joking, right? That telescope is going to be pointed at little humans of all colors running around on Earth.

You're joking, right? You know it's a telescope and not a satellite.

Re:Joking? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812476)

That's where the curved part comes into play. Duh.

Re:Joking? (4, Insightful)

Raenex (947668) | about 3 years ago | (#35813034)

You know it's a telescope and not a satellite.

Those two aren't mutually exclusive.

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35814146)

You know it's a telescope and not a satellite.

Those two aren't mutually exclusive.

Parent got a score of 5 for this?

The inbreeding here must be as bad as Wikipedia.

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35815710)

Telescope on earth. Big mirror in space? :)

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35815292)

You're joking, right? You know it's a telescope and not a satellite.

Yeah, and the nuclear-warhead-sporting-rail-gun attachment is for asteroid protection.

Re:Joking? (1)

khallow (566160) | about 3 years ago | (#35816490)

You're joking, right? You know it's a telescope and not a satellite.

What do you think a spy satellite which images stuff in the visible light spectrum is? Hint: it's a telescope on a satellite in space.

Having said that, this design seems more suitable to spotting rivals' covert space assets than to watching people on Earth. Maybe such a telescope at geostationary orbit could spot large scale changes in real time, such as volcanic eruptions, tsunami hitting a shoreline, or large industrial explosions.

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35816542)

So what's the ratio of HSTs to KH-11s up there again? like 1:14 or some crap?

Re:Joking? (2, Funny)

wcrowe (94389) | about 3 years ago | (#35812474)

Actually I should have RTFA'd first. Apparently it is a ground based telescope. I foolishly assumed that a device named the Space Surveillance Telescope would be based in, you know, space.

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812530)

That's called Space Based. Space by itself is what you are looking at. For example, SBSS is the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite.

Re:Joking? (1)

517714 (762276) | about 3 years ago | (#35812874)

No, that device was given a name which obscures its intent, and DARPA didn't make any announcements about it.

Re:Joking? (1)

Truth is life (1184975) | about 3 years ago | (#35817586)

It's for looking at things IN space, which is much easier to do from the ground.

Re:Joking? (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 3 years ago | (#35819418)

The word space is redundant. All telescopes of this size are for looking at things in space. The Hubble Space Telescope is called as such because it is floating in space.

Re:Joking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35814716)

You can bet that if there are little red aliens running around on Mars...

You're joking, right? That telescope is going to be pointed at little humans of all colors running around on Earth.

Lets get real... it's going to be pointed mostly at brown people.

i wonder.... (2)

metalmaster (1005171) | about 3 years ago | (#35812478)

Would this telescope find pieces of apollo on the moon? Jamie and Adam's interview on Colbert Report [colbertnation.com] claims that modern telescopes arent capable of seeing the debris on the moon. I know they're taking a jab at the US faking a moon landing, but im still curious

Re:i wonder.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812630)

They likely only mentioned that due to a prior experience where they proved the moon landing was not faked. Since they could not use a telescope to view debris left by us on the moon they used a high power laser to hit a reflector we left on the moon and receive the bounced beam.

The same episode also explains why a telescope can not view debris on the moon. Find it and watch it.

Re:i wonder.... (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35812748)

Colbert asked them directly. They said they'd researched it, and were told that even Hubble can't see the gear and footprints.

And it was The Big Bang Theory that verified the existence of a reflector on the moon [wikia.com].

Re:i wonder.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812810)

No, its claim to fame is that it is very agile and has a huge light-gathering ability, not that it has high resolution. In fact, they specifically mention wide-field. So it's perfect for finding that mysterious Chinese satellite out there, or finding an asteroid hurtling towards the planet, but wouldn't be too useful for the moon (or from orbit looking at the earth).

Probably not but (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 3 years ago | (#35812956)

Telescopes from Earth can't but those in orbit around the Moon can and have photographed the Apollo landing sites in enough detail to show the landers, the equipment left behind and the astronauts foot prints.

Re:Probably not but (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | about 3 years ago | (#35813056)

The problem with that is people can't orbit a telescope around the moon for themselves to verify (so images of these things on the moon are just part of the conspiracy). Even if they could, they could still say that the objects being imaged were unmanned or something like that.

Re:Probably not but (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 3 years ago | (#35813144)

So the best thing to do is to take them to the moon and then take them outside the view the site directly. Can't have a helmet on as the visor could be an ultra high definition screen.

Re:Probably not but (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35815232)

So the best thing to do is to take them to the moon and then take them outside the view the site directly. Can't have a helmet on as the visor could be an ultra high definition screen.

Now there's a mission we could fake, just make certain parts of it very realistic.

Re:Probably not but (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | about 3 years ago | (#35816054)

I propose we just leave the naysayers on the moon. It would be cheaper than returning the foolish little people.

Re:i wonder.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35813044)

The reason that telescopes can't see debris on the moon is that the debris is too small. To overcome that, you need a telescope with a large mirror, which gives you good resolving power. This telescope has a mirror size of 3.5m, which is not all that impressive. (There are several telescopes with 8m mirrors.)

The impressive thing about the telescope is that it can see a lot of the sky at once. That doesn't help it to get a good look at a single object - but it does mean that it's very good at rapidly surveying large areas of the sky. For example, to look for new satellites.

Lunar Landing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812516)

Does this mean we can point the thing at the moon where we previously landed and finally get pictures of the lander so all those "we didn't go to the moon!" crazies will finally be quiet?

Re:Lunar Landing (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 3 years ago | (#35812558)

Does this mean we can point the thing at the moon where we previously landed and finally get pictures of the lander so all those "we didn't go to the moon!" crazies will finally be quiet?

Won't work... One word....GNU/GIMP...

unique image-capturing technology ? (1)

mbone (558574) | about 3 years ago | (#35812582)

The press release is a little breathless. Astronomers have been using CCDs for 20 years now.

Re:unique image-capturing technology ? (2)

zakaryah (1344891) | about 3 years ago | (#35812658)

The point is that the sensor in this telescope is curved, so that the curve of focus coincides with the sensor making it possible to create aberration free images. I tried to find a description of the sensor in the SST but was unsuccessful. I think the Kepler telescope's sensor approximates this technique by tiling 42 flat CCDs along a parabolic surface. I'm not sure if SST does the same thing or actually managed to manufacture a curved individual CCD like this one, although presumably much larger: eye shaped camera is shaped like an eye [engadget.com](engadget article)

Re:unique image-capturing technology ? (2)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35812774)

They're calling it "aberration free" but they're really saying "we're too lazy to deconvolve things".

It's a CCD. It's going to pixellate the image. Badly. There's your aberration.

Oh, sure, we'll all be stunned and awed at how "sharp and clear" the "images" look when we render them pixel-for-pixel on our puny monitors.

But hold them up to the sky and they'll look like Atari game graphics by comparison.

Re:unique image-capturing technology ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35814802)

Optics really isn't your strong suit, now is it?

Re:unique image-capturing technology ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35815884)

It's a CCD. It's going to pixellate the image. Badly. There's your aberration.

Oh, sure, we'll all be stunned and awed at how "sharp and clear" the "images" look when we render them pixel-for-pixel on our puny monitors.

But hold them up to the sky and they'll look like Atari game graphics by comparison.

So whats your point? They should just look up to the sky to avoid pixelation from an image capturing device?

They're calling it "aberration free" but they're really saying "we're too lazy to deconvolve things".

I think finding the point spread function and deconvolving images from a regular CCD would be about 10,000 times easier than building that "curved CCD", but the result would be far inferior. Deconvolution always increases the amount of high frequency noise in an image .

Re:unique image-capturing technology ? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#35820054)

Not if you spent your money buiding a higher-resolution CCD instead of a curved one...

Re:unique image-capturing technology ? (2)

kyle5t (1479639) | about 3 years ago | (#35813284)

It is an array of "LL" type CCDs made by MIT Lincoln Laboratory. They have a pixel size of 15 um. The imaging circle diameter is anyone's guess, but I bet it's real big. A significant portion of that 3.5m aperture. This thing must have a ridiculously high image resolution, probably in the gigapixels.

Where is Alex Jones when we need him? (1)

Anonymous Dastard (1887496) | about 3 years ago | (#35812628)

Watching for debris in low earth orbit? Sounds a lot like watching for civilians in the streets! ITS THE NWO!

God says... (1)

Trivial Solutions (1724416) | about 3 years ago | (#35812688)

listened expects warranted equably peace caverns sublime
wonderfully woke swine write fed displace distraction
Predicaments intimate athirst stimulus zeal unutterably
discord no fortunate slept Will contagion funding cutting
cataloguers wonders delighting Ordainer Augustine winds
strongly debtors reading Carolina distinctly Seraphim
titles darkest harmed Some Sure users realised day skins
corrupt Victorinus Almighty obstinacy breaking goods contributing
orbs tastes adulterer faithful net darksomely ceasing
fables Or

consumer products (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35812786)

When they can make these curved sensors cheap, it will mean I'll have to buy a whole new set of lenses for the new breed of DSLR cameras. Doh!

article on curved focal surfaces (4, Informative)

trb (8509) | about 3 years ago | (#35812788)

Here's an interesting 2003 article on curved focal surfaces, including CCDs.

http://www.ptbmagazine.com/content/040103_ora.html [ptbmagazine.com]

Re:article on curved focal surfaces (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35815718)

Anyone knows how this is any different from (or better than) using a regular CCD and adaptive optics?

Re:article on curved focal surfaces (1)

trb (8509) | about 3 years ago | (#35821960)

Anyone knows how this is any different from (or better than) using a regular CCD and adaptive optics?

From the article I linked: "Curved electro-optical detectors will enable the development of new optical design configurations that can be smaller than conventional flat-field designs, thereby benefiting many aerospace applications." In other words, with curved detectors, you can use lighter, simpler optics. because they don't have to adapt to (correct for) a flat sensor surface.

Wide FoV = low magnification (2)

Warwick Allison (209388) | about 3 years ago | (#35812840)

The purpose of this telescope is fast scanning of large areas, not fine detail on single distant objects. By invoking red (!) LGMs, the FA author is just doing a poor job at sensationalizing something he doesn't understand (just the sort of vacuous hype we get too much of here).

Re:Wide FoV = low magnification (3, Interesting)

kyle5t (1479639) | about 3 years ago | (#35813388)

This is not your typical astrograph. I was able to find out, I think, that the CCDs have a pixel size of 15um, which is a normal figure. But this is at f/1 (!), so that is about 0.9 arcsec/pixel. Not too shabby. Not enough to spot the little green men on Mars, though.

GEODSS replacement? (3, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 3 years ago | (#35813296)

Sounds like a replacement for GEODSS. [janes.com]

GEODSS, from 1980, was the first fully computerized telescope system. It basically looks at the sky, section by section, subtracts out all known objects, and reports the rest. So it finds new satellites, space junk, and even dark objects that occult stars. Three GEODSS sites are still running; a fourth is loaned out to Lincoln Labs to find and track near-Earth asteroids. [mit.edu] (Somewhat to the annoyance of astronomers who had been discovering comets and asteroids manually, the automated Lincoln Labs GEODSS discovered them by the thousands.) Each site has at least two identical telescopes, and some have a wide-angle Schmidt.

One of the less-often mentioned features of GEODSS is that it can illuminate a target. One telescope can be used to aim a laser at an object in low orbit, to get a clear picture of darker objects.

Money well spent (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | about 3 years ago | (#35813448)

little red aliens running around on Mars

So they've already dis-proven that the men from Mars are green. That makes more sense as green sure does contrast against the red planet. I'd say this telescope has already proven its worth.

Re:Money well spent (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 3 years ago | (#35815148)

Red undoubtedly refers to the little fellars' political allegiance, rather than their skin colour. This is DARPA, after all.

X-37B (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35813982)

It's only on the ground (for testing) until the next time the X-37B launches.

I call bullshit on this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35814224)

This would essentially be a breakthrough in optics not only on a theoretical front, but actually building, not merely a proof of concept, but an operational model is a rare and perhaps a first ever occurrence in science & technology (compacting several generations of knowledge evolution).

DARPA itself is not really gifted to be able to effect this kind of progress.

But the clearest sign this is crap is that it is scooped by some nerd on "network world"? No offense but the most advanced optics this guy has ever seen is the multi-color fiber optics mobile curio on his computer desk.

oooOOOK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35814296)

doesn't require the long optics train of a more traditional telescopes....
The system is an f/1.0 optical design

doesn't require the long optics, but then it coughs up a f-number.
Isn't this the scientific equivalent of sucking and blowing at the same time?

I'm very confident (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35814538)

That after studying astronomy at university and spending the past 10 years as an amateur astronomer the scope will not be able to see the apollo gear left on the moon. 3.5m at F1? Not a chance. So the author is really stretching it to suggest it will see theoretical aliens on Mars. Perhaps if the Aliens were a significant fraction of the size of Mars it could :)

As for all of the sane things mentioned in TFA (watching things in orbit). Sure- no problem.

Funky Design (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 3 years ago | (#35816400)

Looking at this rendering of the design [darpa.mil], my first reaction is: how the hell can it see anything with that enormous chunk in the middle? Is that the secondary reflector? Or is that where the curved CCD will be housed (obviating the need for a secondary: it would be the secondary). And there's an awful lot of superstructure to hold that thing in place: won't that also obscure the field of view?

Any optics experts want to field this one?

Re:Funky Design (1)

crunchygranola (1954152) | about 3 years ago | (#35817060)

Looking at this rendering of the design [darpa.mil], my first reaction is: how the hell can it see anything with that enormous chunk in the middle? Is that the secondary reflector? Or is that where the curved CCD will be housed (obviating the need for a secondary: it would be the secondary). And there's an awful lot of superstructure to hold that thing in place: won't that also obscure the field of view? Any optics experts want to field this one?

First note that it is reported to have a three and a half meter mirror. All mirrors in this size are really multiple mirrors that use servos to keep them in common focus, so it is likely really a ring of smaller mirrors.

Second, of course the CCD camera is mounted in front of the mirrors. No high performance optical system puts extra optics in the way, and with a super-fast F/1 focal length it forms the image directly in front of the mirror, only longer focal length mirrors can extract the image to the side or behind. The large housing no doubt includes advanced (and secret) active optics to smooth out the image - the real "secret sauce".

Concentrated Solar in U.S. Backyards too?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35817632)

Run the damn ball you idiots don't stand there lookin' at it => let's go! Solar Focusing has been achieved. Back yards and front yards and side yards and the neighbor's yard would like to place an order for the DARPA Mini-Solars immediately, and send me my Royalty checks pleez deposit to: bank account number 162895. I'll only ask 1%, this time. Next time I play Hard Ball => 1.1%. Don't mess with me. I'm dangerous, radioactive, on fire, blazing saddles look out.

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