DARPA’s new satellite is designed to spy on 40 percent of the Earth

BY News Desk  December 10, 2013 at 1:40 PM EDT

Video courtesy Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

A U.S. military agency is planning to “break the glass ceiling” of space imaging with their redesign of a traditional glass telescope into a folding, orbital telescope that would not only be helpful in worldwide surveillance but also in weather forecasts and disaster response.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is currently in the final phase of building and testing a giant, groundbreaking satellite called Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploration (MOIRE) program. The futuristic satellite would be capable of observing 40 percent of the Earth’s surface at a time. The folding satellite would launch as a tightly packed cluster of petals 20 feet in diameter. But once it reaches 22,000 miles above the Earth, it would stretch up to 68 feet across vertically. From the orbit, the satellite can view up to 40 percent of the earth all at once and is able to record high resolution images and videos.

The satellite will be made of plastic, which is significantly cheaper and lighter than glass. Until now, high resolution imagery has been done with heavy, thick and expensive glass that is often found in traditional space telescopes. The MOIRE program is designed to enable cheaper and more efficient options for space and satellite imaging.

H/T Ariel Min