Wide Field of view Demonstration – Satellite

U.S. Space Force launched an infrared sensing demonstration satellite in July to have a better missile warning system.  The satellite is one of its kind because of The Wide Field of View (WFOV) demonstration capabilities in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO). To understand more, let us first understand what a Field of View means. The FOV is the area of the observable world that is always viewable to the human eye or a camera’s viewfinder. Instead of a single, defined focal point, it refers to the covering of a whole region.

Now, what is the importance of Geosynchronous Earth Orbit? A high Earth orbit, also called a geosynchronous orbit enables satellites to follow the planet’s rotation. This location is 22,236 miles above Earth’s equator and is a useful place to keep an eye on the weather, communications, and surveillance. One of the major drawbacks of having satellites in orbit concerning surveillance is The satellite can only travel around a small area of land; for example, if the US wants to do a military operation or a surgical strike, the satellite won’t be able to move there owing to fuel needs.

Thus to improve the capabilities of the satellite in GEO, the idea of a Wide Field of view has been introduced, which will help to scan nearly 3000km of range in a single shot; this is possible by utilizing a 4K by 4K focal plane which is the latest technology used by the manufacturers. After being introduced, the infrared image will aid in developing new ballistic missile sensors that the Space Force will employ in low and medium Earth orbits. The sensors will collect a plethora of data about actual and potential targets, risks, signatures, and their characteristics.

One of the most interesting challenges will be to analyze the data coming from the satellite, as the images sent at frequent intervals will affect the on-ground operations and analysis. To deal with this, Space force has set up a Space force Tap Lab in Boulder, Colorado. The Tap Lab will analyse data that is then utilised for military operations, meteorological services, and other purposes. A large amount of Artificial intelligence will also be used to work on the data and extract valuable insights. Space force will be turning on the sensors soon and starting the mission objectives.