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Planar Hyperspectral Imager

Description:

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Technology

 

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

 

OBJECTIVE: Advances in satellite technology are driving a new space architecture that relies on constellations of small satellites for proliferated systems.  This proliferated architecture will require low cost, rapidly produced optical payloads for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).  Advances in material science, including nanofabrication and computer based design, are bringing in a new era for achieving high functionality in low SWaP-C (size, weight, power, and cost) payloads.  This includes novel planar optics that are broadband, can be fabricated on short timelines, and provide higher functionality in a low-SWaP-C system.  This solicitation seeks a low-SWaP-C ISR payload that can provide simultaneous multiband imaging over the range of 500-12000 nanometers.  This payload must be compatible with integration into an ESPA class satellite.  The system must have a common optical path for the visible through the infrared to use wavelength diversity during data fusion.   The system from low earth orbit must be able to achieve NIRS 5 or better (https://fas.org/irp/imint/niirs.htm).  The anticipated use case of this payload will be to identify features on the ground such as man-made structures, geographical features such as streams, agricultural fields, roadways, and dwellings.

 

DESCRIPTION: Advances in satellite technology are driving a new space architecture that relies on constellations of small satellites for proliferated systems.  This proliferated architecture will require low cost, rapidly produced optical payloads for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).  Advances in material science, including nanofabrication and computer based design, are bringing in a new era for achieving high functionality in low SWaP-C (size, weight, power, and cost) payloads.  This includes novel planar optics that are broadband, can be fabricated on short timelines, and provide higher functionality in a low-SWaP-C system.  This solicitation seeks a low-SWaP-C ISR payload that can provide simultaneous multiband imaging over the range of 500-12000 nanometers.  This payload must be compatible with integration into an ESPA class satellite.  The system must have a common optical path for the visible through the infrared to use wavelength diversity during data fusion. The system from low earth orbit must be able to achieve NIRS 5 or better (https://fas.org/irp/imint/niirs.htm).  The anticipated use case of this payload will be to identify features on the ground such as man-made structures, geographical features such as streams, agricultural fields, roadways, and dwellings.

 

PHASE I: During Phase I, system analysis will be completed to determine the system requirements of the system and conduct a system's requirements review.   This will include breadboard validation of components and the production of a 10-cm or greater single primary optical element that transmits light from 500 to 12000 nm that performs on par (efficiency, resolution, Strehl ratio, etc.) with the quality of a traditional optical aperture across those wavelengths.  Design and fabrication of the optics must be completed within 30 calendar days using readily available computational and fabrication facilities.  The SWaP of the overall system must be 1/10th of a traditional optical train that uses traditional optical materials.  A design with minimal optical elements is highly desired.  The plan to develop algorithms for wavelength diversity and data fusion that takes advantage of imaging across the visible and the infrared will also be investigated with a viable path forward for Phase II.  The use of COTS hardware is encouraged for the more traditional aspects of the payload.

 

PHASE II: During Phase II a prototype payload will be constructed and tested on the ground by imaging space based targets.  Use of COTS hardware is strongly encouraged to reduce the cost of the prototype and future follow-on systems.  The only non-COTS component is expected to be the planar optical elements.  This system must meet the system requirements identified in Phase I.  Phase II will also require development of algorithms identified in Phase I.  The payload developed must be robust enough to survive launch into LEO and survive the harsh space environment for at least three years of space operations not including the spacecraft initialization period (this could take up to 1.5 years to conclude).  The payload must be designed and built to integrate into an ESPA class satellite for ISR applications from LEO measuring the ground.

 

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III is anticipated to identify a satellite vehicle to launch the payload and collect and analyze images collected of the ground from low earth orbit.  There are many potential planned R&D systems that may be willing to host the payload for nominal investment.  The imager will be designed for ground ISR but this system may also offer ISR potential from many different platforms.  Future integration into the Hybrid Architecture Demonstration (HAD) program as well as contribution to a forthcoming multi-nation space-based Hyperspectral Microsatellite constellation Project Agreement (PA) may also be part of Phase III.

 

REFERENCES:

  1. "Patrice Genevet, Federico Capasso, Francesco Aieta, Mohammadreza Khorasaninejad, and Robert Devlin, ""Recent advances in planar optics: from plasmonic to dielectric metasurfaces,"" Optica 4, 139-152 (2017);
  2. NIRS Reference System see https://fas.org/irp/imint/niirs.htm;
  3. https://www.spaceforce.mil/Portals/1/Space%20Capstone%20Publication_10%20Aug%202020.pdf;
  4. S. Banerji & B. Sensale-Rodriguez, “May. 3D-printed diffractive terahertz optical elements through computational design” In Micro-and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications XI (Vol. 10982, p. 109822X). International Society for Optics and Photonics (2019);
  5. M. Meem, S. Banerji, A, Majumder, C. Pies, T. Oberbiermann, B. Sensale-Rodriguez and R. Menon, “Inverse-designed flat lens for imaging in the visible & near-infrared with diameter > 3mm and NA=0.3,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 117(4) 041101 (2020).;

 

KEYWORDS: ISR; Planar Optics; Imaging Payload; Metamaterials; Engineered Materials; Wavelength Diversity; Data Fusion

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