US Air Force Space Command to get DARPA-developed Space Surveillance Telescope


The US Air Force Space Command is to receive the Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The DARPA-developed advanced telescope will be operated by the air force, in collaboration with the Australian Government at a site in Western Australia.

It will help prevent potential collisions with satellites or planet Earth, according to a statement posted on the US Department of Defense's website.

The SST uses a steeply curved primary telescope mirror, which allows the telescope to collect more light to see images across a wider field of view than any other space surveillance telescope, DARPA said.

The telescope's Mersenne-Schmidt design facilitates mirror holding.

The SST also features a curved charge-coupled device (CCD), which will provide clear imagery across the telescope’s wide field of view because current digital cameras with flat CCDs cannot record images from such highly curved mirrors without distortion.

The camera is also said to have the world’s fastest telescope camera shutter and takes thousands of pictures a night.

"It will help prevent potential collisions with satellites or planet Earth."

DARPA said that it recently upgraded the camera, faint-object detection algorithms and search speed to make the telescope even more effective.

SST will provide space situational awareness information from the southern hemisphere to the US Space Surveillance Network.

Additionally, the telescope will continue to give NASA and the scientific community surveillance data on events like supernovas and potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids.


Image: An internal view of the Space Surveillance Telescope’s structure, including the wide-field camera. Photo: courtesy of the US DoD.