Thursday, January 25, 2007

NRO Covets New Toy

The All Seeing Eye in the Sky

by Flemming Funch

An oddball retired aerospace engineer named Bill Grisham seems to maybe have invented something rather revolutionary, which the U.S. military complex would very much like to get their hands on. The site that explains it is here. And if we believe what it says, the idea is to provide globally accessible real-time 3D imaging of every point on the planet, and that it will be available to anybody. It says stuff like this:

According to Grisham, “MIRIAH is everybody´s Spy in the Sky. It´s like a Google Globe but in 3D and in real time. It´s like Internet, but with universal wireless remote wifi access without webservers. Anyone anywhere, will be able to virtually walk around anything or anyone, anywhere. Users will swoop down and walk around objects on the other side of the world. In the future when the Pentagon says there are WMDs somewhere anyone will be able to personally confirm whether or not that is true. There will always be spies on Earth and all that we can ever do about that is for all of us to spy on the spies. In the near future, the biggest secret governments will have to keep will be, How to hide from MIRIAH users? It’s Espionage4Everyone and Everyone2Everybody”.

In the official proposal MIRIAH is described as: an Interferometer satellite sensor which uses convergent illumination for a 2nd Power-Aperture to lower costs for the best characteristics of SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and Optical Satellites. It provides day or night, all weather, penetrating imaging with extremely fine spatial resolution (half a wavelength), and extremely fine spectral resolution in its 1st Power-Aperture, for automatic GIS capable hyper-spectral imaging. It offers 10 samples/day, with 10 channels, to form square matrix Eigenvector “signatures” to instantly isolate critical tactical targets. SAR captures digitized “virtual” images needing extensive, time consuming processing, while MIRIAH captures “real” images, needing only digitization for delivered images, allowing for faster delivery of finished intelligence. This throughput time also varies with the satellite population: from 12 hours for 3 satellites down to 30 minutes for 12 satellites. Its architecture is 3-D symmetric, so piggybacked launching cuts expensive boosters in half, while balanced moments reduce precession to enable simpler cost effective satellites, adding powerful and secure communication and navigation capabilities.

Which, uhm, I didn't quite catch. But they claim that NRO (the National Reconnaissance Office) has examined the patents and found no flaw in the scheme, and that they're very interested. And that it is thousands of times cheaper and more efficient that any competing proposals. And that Grisham refuses to sell out, and will only grant non-exclusive uses for his patents, because he wants everybody to have access to it. You can read another article about all this here. Of course you should take all of that with a big grain of salt. These might of course be crazy religious fantatics and conspiracy theorists with a lively imagination. Or it might just be right, which would be cool.

Also see Radar love: the tortured history of American space radar programs

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