Founded in 1959, SDL has been responsible for the design, fabrication, and operation of sensors on over 400 payloads ranging from aircraft and rocket-borne experiments to space shuttle experiments and satellite-based sensor systems.

Since the mid-1990s, SDL has also been developing innovative technologies for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance community.

The programs listed reflect selected programs from the past few decades.



Advanced Data Transfer Equipment

The Advanced Data Transfer Equipment data support system is designed for digital terrain systems, digital moving maps, and solid-state video recording for F-16 aircraft.


Auroral Spatial Structures Probe

ASSP was designed to measure the spatial and temporal variation of the energy flow in the upper atmosphere in and around the aurora to better understand global temperature changes in the thermosphere.


Commercially Hosted Infrared Program

CHIRP was a flight demonstration program to provide risk reduction for the United States Air Force (USAF) Third Generation Infrared Surveillance (3GIRS) system.


Mobile Differential Absorption Lidar

SDL’s custom-designed DIAL laser instrument and mobile laser laboratory provides in situ monitoring to detect the concentration of fugitive emissions.


Dynamic Ionosphere CubeSat Experiment

Twin CubeSats mapped the geomagnetic Storm Enhanced Density (SED) plasma bulge and plume formations in Earth’s ionosphere.


Common Configuration Implementation Program

SDL designed and developed Test Program Sets (TPS)s for F-16 Video Display subsystems that examine critical hardware elements to determine which are contributors to display failures.

F-16 Video Display Re-engineering

SDL re-engineered the F-16 Video Display Unit circuit card assemblies to help establish organic maintenance capability for the Air Force.


Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter

The HARP instrument is a wide field-of-view hyper-angular imaging polarimeter designed to characterize aerosol and cloud properties.


Ionospheric Connection Explorer

NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission will explore how both terrestrial and space weather affect conditions in the ionosphere.


Joint Polar Satellite System

The JPSS program is designed to provide environmental and scientific data to improve weather forecasting and climate monitoring.


NADSI Download Workstation

SDL designed a portable workstation to support data transfers to and from any NADSI STANAG-4575 compliant removable memory module (RMM).


Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

The NEOWISE mission has collected millions of IR images and billions of IR measurements of asteroids, stars, galaxies and quasars following the restart of the asteroid-seeking spacecraft in December 2013 after a lengthy hibernation.


Near Field Infrared Experiment

NFIRE was designed to collect infrared imagery of boosting intercontinental ballistic missiles to validate models and simulations that support the development of guidance and homing algorithms.


Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) space instrument will investigate carbon dioxide distribution on Earth related to the global carbon cycle.


Ogden Data Device-Ethernet Crypto

SDL redesigned the Navy’s cross-platform Micro Module Interface Device (MicroMID) ground station to provide a low-cost replaceable unit with enhanced performance and Ethernet connectivity.


Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer

OSIRIS-REx is a New Frontiers asteroid sample return mission led by the University of Arizona. SDL provided identical detector assemblies for each camera in the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS).

P4R1 Redesign

SDL redesigned electronic subsystems for the Air Force’s P4R1 Pod to support future procurements and to mitigate obsolescence issues that hamper repair activities.


Precision Weapons Platform

PWP is remotely-operated, state-of-the-art, lightweight stabilized pointing system.


Radiation Budget Instrument

RBI will fly on the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-2) an will measure the emitted and reflected radiation from the Earth and its atmosphere over a very broad wavelength range from approximately 280 nanometers (mid UV) to 100 microns (far IR).


Radio Frequency Beacon Receiver

The cost-effective, portable ground-based RFBR system is capable of characterizing ionospheric parameters, including total electron content (TEC) and amplitude and phase scintillation.


Vehicle Integrated Sensor Suite for Testbed Applications

The VISSTA mobile sensor laboratory provided a way to collect multi-sensor data of real-world target objects to support automatic target recognition (ATR) algorithm development.



SDL's comprehensive air quality monitoring system, Aglite, is a cost-effective, vehicle-portable, rugged remote sensing system designed to help agricultural operation owners meet regulatory standards for pollution and improve air quality in their communities.


Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere/Solar Occultation for Ice Experiment

SOFIE is one of three instruments aboard the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite. AIM’s objective is to study polar mesospheric clouds and the environment in which they form.


Cruise Missile Real-Time Retargeting

SDL developed ladar system simulation software to improve modeling, prediction and performance for Cruise Missile Real-Time Retargeting.


Coupling of Dynamics and Aurora

CODA measured the magnitude and distribution of turbulent diffusion in the lower E-region of the atmosphere.


Distributed Common Ground System

SDL delivers customized ground stations, the modular VANTAGE™ software suite, and data link interface products to support the unique needs of the DoD’s DCGS programs for the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps.


Dual-mode Experiment on Bowshock Interactions

DEBI was an instrumented sounding rocket program designed to assess the IR and UV characteristics of the kinetically-heated bow shock environment in the 40-70 km range.


Discriminating Interceptor Technology Program

SDL participated in the DITP effort to develop and demonstrate technologies necessary to enhance and enable interceptor discriminator/seeker systems.


Deployable UAV System for Targeting, Exploitation, and Reconnaissance

DUSTER demonstrated SDL’s ability to control an array of dissimilar UAV platforms while simultaneously processing and exploiting their sensor data.


E-Winds was part of a NASA sounding rocket campaign to investigate mid-latitude plasma layers and neutral winds.


Enhanced MODIS Airborne Simulator

SDL provided a cooled optical bench assembly (COB) to enhance the MODIS Airborne Simulator (MAS), a wide-band, multispectral, whiskbroom scanner operated by the NASA Airborne Sensor Facility for Earth-observing campaigns aboard high-altitude NASA platforms.


Fusion, Exploitation, Algorithm, Targeting High-Altitude Reconnaissance

Under the FEATHAR program, SDL developed enhanced integrated multi‐intelligence sensor systems and fusion processing algorithms for multiple‐networked ISR platforms to identify, geo‐locate, and track enemy targets.


Far-Infrared Spectroscopy of the Troposphere

FIRST is a long–wave imaging spectrometer that measures between 10–100 µm, filling a gap in the existing systems that monitored the Earth’s climate.


Floating Potential Measurement Unit

The FPMU is an important diagnostic tool that helps enable NASA to monitor and control surface charging on the International Space Station, reducing risks to astronauts during extra-vehicular activity.


Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean

HICO demonstrates the efficacy of space‐based hyperspectral imaging of coastlines.

JWST Heat Switch

SDL designed and demonstrated an advanced thermal switch for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

JWST Thermal Links

SDL developed thermal links to transport heat from JWST’s science instruments to their radiators, enabling each instrument to operate at desired temperatures.


Lada is a vegetation chamber created to provide a kind of space garden for astronauts and cosmonauts during their long expeditions onboard the ISS.


Navy Input Station

A real-time reconnaissance imagery receiver and display system developed by SDL for the Navy.


Orbiting Carbon Observatory

SDL developed the cryogenic subsystem for NASA’s OCO instrument.


Optimization of Root Zone Substrates

ORZS is a cooperative program between SDL, the Russian Institute of BioMedical Problems (IBMP), and USU’s Soil Physics group to optimize the plant growth rooting environment in microgravity.


Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System

ProSEDS was an experiment designed to demonstrate an electrodynamic tether's ability to generate significant thrust.


Russian American Observational Satellites

The joint US-Russian Federation RAMOS project envisioned the launch of two low altitude (425 km) spacecraft equipped with IR sensors designed to provide simultaneous stereo tracking of theater missiles and environmental phenomena.


Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry

SABER, a 10-channel infrared (1.27 to 16.9 µm) radiometer, is one of four instruments on NASA's TIMED mission, which is dedicated to study the dynamics of the Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere (MLT) portion of the Earth's atmosphere.


Space Based Infrared System

SBIRS High is a two-tier remote sensing satellite system working with other US defense systems to provide global below- and above-the-horizon detection as well as tracking and discrimination of missiles in their boost, post-boost, midcourse and reentry phases of flight.


Space Based Infrared System-Low

SDL supported the study phase of SBIRS Low orbit constellation development via sensor design and calibration planning efforts.


Squadron hi-vis Advanced Reconnaissance Computer

Working with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), SDL developed the SHARC ground station for use in aircrew training, mission results validation, target verification, and on‐site maintenance assistance.


Shared Reconnaissance Pod

SHARP is a multi-functioned reconnaissance pod, adaptable to several airborne platforms for tactical manned airborne reconnaissance.


Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System Mission Verification Equipment

The TARS MVE is a portable ground station for the rapid screening of Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System tactical imagery data.


Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer‐Focal Plane Opto‐Mechanical Assembly

SDL designed, fabricated, and tested the re-imaging optics and focal plane mechanical support/cryogenic isolation FPOMA for TES, a high-resolution infrared imaging Fourier transform spectrometer.


Tactical Input Segment Screener Processor Element

SDL developed the hardware and software for the SPE portion of the TIS, a ground station designed to receive, process, and screen tactical imagery.


Vegetable Production Unit

VPU is a study to advance the technology required for plant growth in microgravity and to research related food safety issues.


Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer

The WISE cryogenically-cooled infrared telescope provided a complete stellar infrared map more than 1,000 times more detailed than previous surveys.



Advanced Reconnaissance Compression Hardware

SDL developed the ARCH hardware and software suite to provide near real-time image compression for the US Navy’s tactical reconnaissance systems.


Advanced Space Technologies and Emerging Concepts

SDL performed a study to determine the feasibility issues and costs associated with the development and manufacturing of 100 servicing satellites.


Brilliant Eyes Proof of Principle

SDL performed a proof-of-principle demonstration to validate the feasibility of a space-based sensor concept to perform tracking and discrimination functions against ballistic missile targets.

Bowshock I and II

SDL developed photometric UV instruments to provide the predictive capability to design and deploy effective sensor systems for target acquisition and tracking in future atmospheric interceptor systems.


Cryogenic Infrared Radiance Instrumentation for Shuttle

CIRRIS-1A’s goal was to obtain simultaneous spectral and spatial measurements of atmospheric emissions, including airglow and auroral phenomenology.


Eddy was part of a two-month NASA campaign to study space weather using rockets and ground instruments, including the world's largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. The project provided information to help improve the reliability of radio and satellite communications.


Excitation via Controlled Energy Deposition Experiment

EXCEDE was an atmospheric energy deposition sounding rocket experiment that was launched in April 1990 from White Sands Missile Range.


Final Analysis Incorporated Satellite

SDL delivered a hardware in-the-loop emulator for the attitude determination and control system and provided instrumentation, fabrication, integration, and testing for FAISAT 1 and 2.


Flying Infrared Signatures Technology Aircraft

SDL served as prime contractor to AFRL for FISTA, a series of KC-135 aircraft specially modified to fly infrared sensors and collect data during flight.


Gas Exchange Measurement System

GEMS measured the respiration of plants grown in a small greenhouse on the Russian Mir Space Station as part of a 25-year experiment that demonstrated that serial plant propagation in space is possible.


Geosynchronous Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer

GIFTS was successfully tested and calibrated as an engineering demonstration unit to ground-validate technologies critical to NOAA’s Hyperspectral Environmental Suite for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system.


Hyperspectral Imaging Polarimeter

The HIP pathfinder sensor investigated the infrared characteristics of sun-glint from high altitude clouds in order to research techniques to reduce the high incidence of false missile-launch indications from US early-warning satellites.


Infrared Background Signature Survey

SDL provided calibration and a data collection and analysis system for the IBSS program, a set of experiments designed to perform DoD-critical measurements of liquid engine plumes, Earth background, and chemical obscurant phenomenology.


Ice Content and Odd-Oxygen in Noctilucent Clouds

ICON - METEORS measured the IR and UV radiation and absorption characteristics of noctilucent clouds to help determine their composition.

Mars Balloon

Working with JPL in designing, fabricating, integrating and flying prototype Mars balloons, SDL's deliverables included balloon storage and deployment containers, pyrotechnic systems, and control gondolas.


Mesosphere-Thermosphere Emissions for Ozone Remote Sensing

METEORS measured infrared emissions from molecular oxygen, enabling scientists to determine the amount of ozone present in the atmosphere.


Miniature Sensor Technology Integration

MSTI-3 surveyed the Earth, collecting IR data to support analysis of ground and atmospheric features as they vary with season, time of day, and aspect angle. The data helped the DoD design future space-based IR systems to improve our nation’s missile warning and defense capability.


National Polar‐orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System

SDL is a long‐standing member of the government team for the National Polar‐orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS).


Naval Research Laboratory Sensor Node

NSN provided distributed screening of real-time, near real-time, and archived data from a variety of electro-optical and radar sensors.


Skipper, a joint US-Russian space science mission, was the third space experiment in the Bow Shock series sponsored by MDA. Its mission was to obtain aerothermochemistry and emission data from shock-heated layers.


Shuttle Pallet Satellite-III

SPAS III was a telescoped infrared imager designed to be deployed aboard a reusable free-flyer, retrievable via the Shuttle’s Remote Manipulator System arm.


Space Power Experiments Aboard Rockets

SPEAR-III was a sounding rocket payload designed to study the interaction of a charged body with the Earth's upper atmosphere with particular reference to the discharging ability of selected active devices carried on the payload.


Spatial Infrared Imaging Telescope

SPIRIT III was the infrared sensor aboard MDA’s Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX). This long-wave infrared instrumentation package consisted of a high spatial resolution radiometer, a high spectral resolution interferometer-spectrometer, and an extremely high-off-axis-rejection telescope.


Tactical Air-borne Reconnaissance Pod System - Completely Digital

SDL integrated digital imagery with real-time digital recording, data link transmission and display to provide the capabilities for processing, displaying, and manipulating tactical reconnaissance imagery received in real-time from CDL or from tape.


Wide-field Infrared Explorer

WIRE was a solid-hydrogen cooled imaging telescope designed for the major measurement goal of studying starburst galaxy evolution.