Faster, more accurate storm predictions, real-time tracking of bushfire activity and open ocean surveillance from space are just some of the capabilities to be explored under a new partnership between Adelaide-based Silentium Defence, researchers at the US-based Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The partners will explore how Silentium Defence’s unique passive radar technology can be integrated with a novel antenna design and small satellite technology to improve quality and cost efficiency of earth observations from low-earth-orbit.
“Earth-observing satellites are critical tools for forecasting all kinds of activity from severe weather events to floods, open ocean surveillance and impacts of climate change,” said Dr James Palmer, CEO Silentium Defence.
“They are used by organisations like U.S. Department of Defense, the Bureau of Meteorology, NASA, and the United Nations to inform decision making and to keep people, places, and assets here on earth safe.
“The challenge is they require heavy, power-hungry antennas mounted on big, expensive satellites to create and capture those observations. Small satellites present a far more efficient solution but, to date, require regular charging and only capture a narrow picture of earth with each orbit.
“This partnership will explore integration of our light, powerful and energy efficient passive radar sensors for wide area monitoring of space with the Duke researchers’ novel metasurface antenna architecture for use in satellite applications.
“If successful, the world-first trial will enable faster, higher quality and more informed object, trend and environment tracking from space.”
The initial phase of the project will be executed in two stages. The first will explore the feasibility and utility of passive radar in a variety of applications for earth observation from LEO. The second will integrate Silentium’s system with the Duke researchers’ novel metasurface antenna architecture to validate the models developed in phase one. Ultimately, the objective is to launch a prototype small satellite, mounted with Silentium’s passive radar sensors for wide area earth observation and capture.
The application of Silentium’s proven passive radar technology in this new, earth observation capacity, opens the global satellite-based earth observation market and will broaden the suite of Silentium’s available products for both strategic and tactical surveillance or air, land, sea, and space domains.
This material is based upon work supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC Pacific) under Contract No. N66001-21-C-4016.