Plastics are often used in mine and IEDs. Difficult to detect with traditional approaches, plastics are spectrally active in the shortwave and mid-infrared due to vibrational absorptions from the C-H bonds of which they are composed; bonds and vibrations that are diagnostic of and spectrally vary with composition. Hyperspectral infrared imaging has proven exceedingly capable of detecting and categorizing plastics. Here we pursue a dual-band imaging approach that leverages the ubiquitous presence of the ~1.7-micron harmonic of the ~3.4-micron fundamental absorption feature for a low SWaP (Size, Weight, and Power) instrument concept. The 1.7-micron band is also in a spectral region free of telluric and almost all geologic absorption features, making its presence in a reflectance spectrum almost a unique marker for plastics. We have developed and tested a two-camera, dual-band sensor, emphasizing imaging over spectroscopy and implementing on-camera processing to achieve near real-time, partially autonomous detection and imaging of plastic objects. The sensor has proven successful in discriminating and imaging plastics such as fiberglass, styrene, and acrylics from background materials such as grass, dirt, rocks, and brush. The sensor is challenged by certain plastics, especially thin, transparent plastics (less relevant to mines and IEDs) even if they are spectrally active near 1.7 microns. Also, photometric variations in the observing conditions can mask weak plastic signatures. We will discuss our current measurement and technical approach, the results and the challenges that remain to implementing an effective low SWaP sensor for the detection and imaging of plastic objects.
Leveraging low cost launch carriers for small satellites with the functionality required for DoD and intelligence missions
realizes a hidden potential capability. The Multi-Mission Bus Demonstration (MBD) is a Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) program to demonstrate military operational relevance in a 3U CubeSat form
factor. The MBD spacecraft caters to mission versatility and responsive launch capabilities with a standardized bus and
interchangeable payload interface design. MBD embraced the challenge of building two space vehicles on an extremely
aggressive timeline and demanding budget, causing the development team to evaluate every step of the process to
maximize efforts with minimal manpower and cost. MBD is providing a classified DoD payload capability that is truly
operationally relevant and may revolutionize the mission area.
As a single instrument or payload satellite, also called a SensorSat, MBD is a spacecraft of realizable ISR benefits
including effective remote sensing, simplified engineering design and program requirements, and reduced time to
launch, all yielding an appealing cost per unit. The SensorSat has potential to detect sufficient information that will act
as a complementary component to tactical commanders in heightening battlefield awareness. Recent advancements in
technology has put capabilities such as precision navigation, communication intelligence, signal intelligence, tactical
warning, environmental intelligence, and a wide variety of ground imaging, at the tip of culmination in a small,
economical package. This paper reviews the high functionality of the MBD spacecraft in the miniaturized footprint of 10
cm by 10 cm by 30cm which allows the mission to leverage inexpensive launch opportunities.
The Multi Mission Bus Demonstrator (MBD) is a successful demonstration of agile program management and system
engineering in a high risk technology application where utilizing and implementing new, untraditional development
strategies were necessary. MBD produced two fully functioning spacecraft for a military/DOD application in a record
breaking time frame and at dramatically reduced costs. This paper discloses the adaptation and application of concepts
developed in agile software engineering to hardware product and system development for critical military applications.
This challenging spacecraft did not use existing key technology (heritage hardware) and created a large paradigm shift
from traditional spacecraft development.
The insertion of new technologies and methods in space hardware has long been a problem due to long build times, the
desire to use heritage hardware, and lack of effective process. The role of momentum in the innovative process can be
exploited to tackle ongoing technology disruptions and allowing risk interactions to be mitigated in a disciplined manner.
Examples of how these concepts were used during the MBD program will be delineated. Maintaining project momentum
was essential to assess the constant non recurring technological challenges which needed to be retired rapidly from the
engineering risk liens. Development never slowed due to tactical assessment of the hardware with the adoption of the
SCRUM technique. We adapted this concept as a representation of mitigation of technical risk while allowing for design
freeze later in the program's development cycle. By using Agile Systems Engineering and Management techniques
which enabled decisive action, the product development momentum effectively was used to produce two novel space
vehicles in a fraction of time with dramatically reduced cost.