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DARPA

Official account of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense.

https://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/darpas-60-year-space-adventure/

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List of Instagram medias taken by DARPA (@darpa)

TIROS (shown here in pre-clean room days) was the world's first weather satellite, created for ARPA by RCA, and launched by @NASA in 1960. TIROS supported operation of CORONA, the world's first photo-reconnaissance satellite, by providing crucial information for planning. Because the CORONA satellites had a very narrow time window in which their high-resolution cameras would take images of strategic targets inside the Soviet Union - images that were recovered in the upper atmosphere by high-flying aircraft capturing parachuting payloads containing film canisters - planners needed to know in advance if cloud conditions would allow for each reconnaissance mission to go forward. The same month that TIROS went up, we also launched Transit, the world's first navigation satellite, created for ARPA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The Transit system remained in operation until 1996, when the current Global Positioning System (GPS) took over. The second image here shows Transit at DARPA’s 60th anniversary symposium in 2018. (TIROS image courtesy of NASA)

We were excited to learn about progress being made by on new neural interface technology! The field of neurotechnology as a whole is gaining momentum as more powerful tools are created to understand and interact with the brain. For instance, the "sewing machine" robot described by Neuralink for placing electrodes in the brain was developed by University of California, San Francisco with DARPA funds. The fact that it has transitioned to use by industry underscores the effectiveness of DARPA's of reducing technological risk to create new opportunities. Even as industry now plays a welcome and increased role in certain aspects of neurotech, DARPA will continue to work at the frontier of what's possible to avoid surprise, reduce risk, and continue to create opportunity. For instance, our Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology program is looking at how to develop high-resolution interfaces that work without the requirement for surgery so that they can be used by able-bodied people. (Images: @UCSF)

An industry and program first! Under our 3DSoC program, the first monolithic 3D device structures produced in a fab were unveiled yesterday in at our by Dr. Max Shulaker from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The 3DSoC program aims to drive the future of system-on-a-chip architecture, utilizing 3D fabrication to address key limits in current 2D SoC design and . @MITpics

The Apollo 11 mission, the first to land humans on the moon, launched 50 years ago today. DARPA's role in that mission's success started 11 years before with engine and fuel work. In August 1958, just six months after ARPA was established (later renamed DARPA), the agency authorized a proposal by Wernher von Braun and his research team at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama, to design and build a large, heavy-lift rocket vehicle. To quickly and cheaply achieve massive in the first stage, ARPA suggested a design featuring a cluster of available rocket engines, the powerful F-1 developed by Rocketdyne in the mid-1950s. Also expediting the successful development of the Saturn booster was the reliance in the upper stages on liquid hydrogen technology developed earlier for the ARPA-supported CENTAUR vehicle. The first image here shows an injector plate of an F-1 engine. From the injector plate's holes, liquid fuel and liquid oxygen would spray out, much like water from the head of a garden hose, but under enormous pressure. This particular F-1 engine is on display in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. At present, DARPA remains at the forefront of rocket design, now focusing on the challenges of boosting assets to orbit quickly, with little notice, and at relatively low cost. (Injector plate photo by Lee Hutchinson; other photos courtesy of NASA)

Our second annual Electronics Resurgence Initiative Summit kicked off today in . More than 1,000 members of the electronics community have gathered to hear from industry leaders and researchers about progress made under our programs. Some of the speakers on Day 1 include: Dr. Lisa Su, CEO of AMD; Dr. Bill Chappell, CTO of Microsoft Azure Global; Dr. John Kelly, III, Executive Vice President of IBM; Dr. Lisa Porter, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Mr. John Neuffer, President of the Semiconductor Industry Association; Dr. Ilan Gur, Executive Director of Cyclotron Road; Dr. Rich Uhlig, Managing Director of Intel Labs; Dr. Partha Ranganathan, Distinguished Engineer at Google; and Dr. Mark Rosker, Director of DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office.

Using our Squad X technologies, dismounted units can partner with artificial intelligence to dominate the battlespace. The program highlights manned-unmanned teaming to enhance capabilities for ground units, giving squads battalion-level insights and intelligence. U.S. Marines recently tested Squad X systems at Twentynine Palms' Air Ground Combat Center. DARPA is working with @LockheedMartin and CACI International Inc. on Squad X. The program has moved quickly through development and is already well along the transition path, due in large part to the program's focus on partnering with the services to ensure real-world efficacy. Feedback has included a desire for a user interface so intuitive that training takes an hour or less and any available action is accessible in two screen taps. Catch video of the Squad X tech on our YouTube channel, DARPAtv.

Here’s a throwback to the DARPA Robotics Challenge days of 2013-2015 when we set out to describe the value of public prize challenges. Briefly, prize challenges inspire out-of-the-box thinking; encourage broad and diverse participation; and have great economics. Right now, DARPA is running three challenges: the Spectrum Collaboration Challenge; the DARPA Launch Challenge; and the Subterranean Challenge.

A research team led by @BrownU and funded by DARPA's Molecular Informatics program has demonstrated a "molecular thumb drive" that can store digital images in metabolite molecules. According to Brown, it's a step toward molecular storage systems that can efficiently hold vast amounts of data in tiny spaces. Brown described the process this way: The researchers assembled artificial metabolomes - small liquid mixtures with different combinations of molecules. The presence or absence of a particular metabolite in a mixture encodes one bit of digital data, a zero or a one. The number of molecule types in the artificial metabolome determines the number of bits each mixture can hold. Thousands of mixtures are then arrayed on small metal plates in the form of nanoliter-sized droplets. The contents and arrangement of the droplets, precisely placed by a liquid-handling robot, encode the desired data. The plates are then dried, leaving tiny spots of metabolite molecules, each holding digital information. The data can then be read out using a mass spectrometer, which can identify the metabolites present at each spot on the plate and decode the data.

Our SIGMA+ sensor network was deployed at the recent Indianapolis 500. As some 300,000 race fans packed the stands for the event, behind the scenes our advanced network of sensors provided security officials with real-time awareness of any potential weapon of mass destruction or mass terror threats. The deployment marked the first time that DARPA's SIGMA+ network seamlessly integrated radiological and chemical sensors with biological threat sensors from the Department of Homeland Security's Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office. The joint DARPA-DHS sensor coverage demonstrated the powerful scaling capabilities of the SIGMA+ network. DHS' expanded involvement built on five years of prior radiation and nuclear detection support to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for the race. DARPA researchers who developed the SIGMA+ sensors and network included Two Six Labs and Physical Sciences Inc.

Three balloons on a flight test for our Adaptable Lighter Than Air (ALTA) program have landed safely in northern California. The balloons navigated from east to west across the country without propulsion, adjusting their altitude to ride different wind profiles after launching from Cumberland, Maryland, on June 17, 2019, as shown here (along with concept art). The balloons can fly at altitudes of more than 75,000 feet.

Our Aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program has successfully completed its first flight in a Black Hawk helicopter. The UH-60A/L helicopter completed the fly-by-wire flight May 29, 2019, via a retrofit kit from performer Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company. ALIAS integrates directed autonomy with the goal to assist pilots by providing the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably, and affordably with two, one, or zero crew. The aircraft now enters a flight test program that is to be followed by a series of progressive demonstrations, which include unpiloted operations.

Under our "A Mechanically Based Antenna" (AMEBA) program, researchers are exploring aspects of electromagnetic physics that might allow the expansion of wireless communication and data transfer into undersea, underground, and other settings where such capabilities have been absent. In a paper recently published in Nature Communications, a team of researchers led by the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory reported on their recent progress. SLAC, in collaboration with researchers from SRI International and photonics tech firm Gooch and Housego, developed a new type of pocket-sized antenna that emits very-low frequency (VLF) radiation with wavelengths of tens to hundreds of miles. These waves travel very long distances and can environments that would block radio waves with shorter wavelengths. While today's most powerful VLF technology requires gigantic emitters, the SLAC-developed antenna is only four inches tall, so it could potentially be used for tasks that demand high mobility, including communications during rescue and defense missions.

Our third and final group in the Subterranean Challenge STIX integration exercise -- Teams CoStar, Cretise and Explorer -- braved the snow last week to test their systems ahead of the challenge's Tunnel Circuit in August. @coloradoschoolofmines

That's a wrap for the second group of teams at DARPA's Subterranean Challenge STIX integration event at the Colorado School of Mines! Round two featured technologies from Teams Marble, Robotika, and CTU-CRAS. One more round of teams will test their systems this week. If you want to be included next time, April 22 is the deadline to qualify for the Tunnel Circuit in August. @coloradoschoolofmines

What do you get when you put robots, unmanned aerial systems, and a bunch of engineers together in a mine? That's not a trick question. The answer is the DARPA Subterranean Challenge STIX integration event. STIX brings together the competing teams to test out their systems in an environment representative of a challenge course. The testing this week is being held at the Colorado School of Mines' Edgar Experimental Mine. And, to be clear, the engineers stay outside the mine. SubT is for non-humans only!

Our Subterranean Challenge STIX integration event started this weekend when the first of nine teams put their autonomous systems to the test at @ColoradoSchoolofMines' Edgar Experimental Mine. Great job Teams CERBERUS, CSIRO & PLUTO! Six more teams have the opportunity to test their systems this week in an environment representative of the forthcoming Circuits Stage of the SubT Challenge.

Tonight our R3D2 payload successfully caught a ride to space aboard @RocketLabUSA's Electron rocket! The payload is our Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2), a new type of membrane reflectarray antenna that we're aiming to space qualify. The antenna, made of a tissue-thin Kapton membrane, was packed tightly for stowage during launch. In a few days, it will deploy to its full size of 2.25 meters in diameter while in low Earth orbit. @NorthropGrumman is the prime contractor and integrated the 150 kg satellite; MMA Design designed and built the antenna. Trident Systems designed and built R3D2's software-defined radio, while Blue Canyon Technologies provided the spacecraft bus.

Researchers from @USCViterbi supporting DARPA's Lifelong Learning Machines program created an AI-controlled robotic limb driven by animal-like tendons and capable of teaching itself a walking task. A bio-inspired algorithm allowed the robot to complete a walking task on its own after only five minutes of "unstructured play" in which it conducted random movements that enabled the robot to learn its own structure as well as that of its surrounding environment. The robot's ability to learn by doing is a significant advancement towards lifelong learning in machines. The current machine learning approaches rely on pre-programming a system for all potential scenarios, which is complex, labor intensive, and inefficient. What the USC researchers accomplished shows that it is possible for AI systems to learn from relevant experience -- finding and adapting solutions to challenges overtime. (Image by Matthew Lin/USC)

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