USU’s Space Dynamics Laboratory demonstrates latest Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance technology

By Karen Wolfe
Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory
October 11, 2007

SDL’s unmanned aerial vehicle, Dakota, with the MicroSAR instrument on the right.

An image of Old Main on the USU campus taken with EyePod’s long wave infrared camera.

North Logan—On October, 10, Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory hosted congressional staff and key industry leaders at an open house which demonstrated their latest technology in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. Front and center was the demonstration of the DUSTER program, for which Sen. Bennett was instrumental in securing funding.

DUSTER, which stands for Deployable Unmanned Systems for Targeting, Exploitation, and Reconnaissance, is being developed by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, or SDL, in cooperation with the Naval Research Laboratory, or NRL. Also assisting in the development and demonstration of this program are Brigham Young University, Artemis, Inc., and L-3 Communications, Communication Systems West.

DUSTER is a suite of advanced, lightweight tactical sensors, complete with the software developed to simultaneously control, disseminate and use real-time data for military and homeland security applications.

The technology demonstration displayed DUSTER’s unique capabilities as they apply to various military missions including border protection, persistent surveillance, day/night target tracking and detection of concealed targets.

Advancements in remote sensing technology have improved the military’s ability to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance missions from manned and unmanned aerial vehicles of various types. The DUSTER program is filling a technology void by providing high-performance, low size and weight sensors for smaller manned and unmanned aircraft.

The DUSTER open house began at the Logan Airport with a display of three new sensors installed on three different aircraft. The first technology demonstrated showcased data from a sensor called MicroSAR that was developed by SDL in partnership with BYU. The aptly named, small MicroSAR system flew on an unmanned aerial vehicle and transmitted data over an L-3 Communication miniature Common Data Link terminal, to a ROVER III receiver connected to an SDL exploitation laptop. Operators were able to demonstrate screening of the data in real-time. Synthetic aperture radar, or SAR, has the ability to detect metal or other targets of interest under day or night conditions.

A second sensor carried by a Piper Seneca, was developed as a collaborative effort between Artemis, BYU, SDL, and NRL. NuSAR uses a unique frequency range to detect relevant military targets. The DUSTER program uses NuSAR to cue a high-resolution day/night imaging sensor and infrared camera known as EyePod, which flew aboard a Skymaster O-2 aircraft. EyePod was developed jointly by SDL and NRL

While aircraft carrying NuSAR and EyePod instrumentation flew over the Utah Test and Training Range in north-western Utah, SDL and Navy employees staged various mission relevant scenarios on the range. At the same time, attendees of the open house viewed images obtained by the two instruments on ground station systems located at SDL’s North Logan facilities.