News Briefs

October 3, 2016
Maryann Lawlor

Nominations are now being accepted for the DON Information Management/Information Technology (IM/IT) Excellence Awards. Submissions are due by December 5. The awards recognize the superior efforts of IM/IT projects, teams and individuals in helping to transform Department of the Navy information technology.

February 13, 2017
The U.S. Army is rolling out a direct commissioning program for the cyber career field that would allow qualified civilians to bypass prerequisites to become an officer.

The U.S. Army is rolling out a new cybersecurity career management program that could let qualified civilians bypass prerequisites​ and be commissioned directly into the service with a rank up to colonel.

The Defense Department has directed all military services to research the idea and submit findings by 2020 to determine if a pilot program should be implemented across the department. But Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, USA, director of cyber for the Army’s G-3/5/7, explains that the Army decided to respond to the high demand for cyber experts more quickly. “We’ll see if the other services do something similar,” she states.

February 10, 2017
An Air Force Research Laboratory scientist examines liquid metal nanoparticles. Researchers are exploring potential applications for liquid metals by examining their microscopic properties.

A collaborative, multidisciplinary team of U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) researchers recently demonstrated that nontoxic liquid metals can create multifunctional, reconfigurable electronics and flexible power connections for nontraditional electronics. The advance may help lead to self-healing electronics, shape-shifting antennas and clothing woven with conductive threads to electronically connect devices.

February 9, 2017
Representatives from U.S. Strategic Command and the Belgium Federal Science Policy Office have signed a memorandum of understanding to share space situational awareness services and information.

U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) entered into an agreement with the Belgium Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO) to share space situational awareness (SSA) services and information. The arrangement is expected to enhance awareness within the space domain and increase the safety of spaceflight operations.

Maj. Gen. Clinton E. Crosier, USAF, USSTRATCOM director of plans and policy, signed a memorandum of understanding formalizing the arrangement on February 7 at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Elke Sleurs, Belgium’s secretary of state for science policy, signed on January 31 in Brussels.

February 9, 2017
U.S. Air Force training in New Mexico uses robots to teach airmen how to operate better in tense situations.

They can extinguish shipboard fires and deliver explosive devices to kill suspected shooters, and now robots can help U.S. airmen practice for intense missions, such as hostage situations.

The U.S. Air Force’s 27th Special Operations Wing is using specialized robots programmed with practice scenarios to train explosive ordnance disposal technicians at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.

February 8, 2017
By Maryann Lawlor
Aurora Flight Sciences recently tested a full-scale SideArm technology demonstration system that repeatedly captured a Lockheed Martin Fury UAS accelerated to representative flight speeds via an external catapult. Photo courtesy of DARPA.

A full-scale technology demonstration system that repeatedly captured a 400-pound Lockheed Martin Fury unmanned aerial system (UAS) accelerated to representative flight speeds via an external catapult. The test was part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA’s) SideArm research, which focuses on creating a self-contained, portable apparatus that can horizontally launch and retrieve UASs that weigh up to 900 pounds.

February 2, 2017
Lawrence Livermore’s High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System recently demonstrated continuous operation of an all-diode-pumped, high-energy femtosecond petawatt laser system.

The High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS) being developed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently completed a significant milestone: demonstration of continuous operation of an all-diode-pumped, high-energy femtosecond petawatt laser system. The system now is ready for delivery and integration at the European Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines (ELI Beamlines) facility project in the Czech Republic, where it will be used for conducting experiments.  

January 17, 2017
By Julianne Simpson

The Army Cyber Center of Excellence is requesting research papers that address specific areas that answer learning demands or capability gaps that inhibit operational force effectiveness or efficiency. Among other things, the research papers will be used to evaluate emerging concepts against documented Army Signal, cyberspace and electronic warfare capability requirements.

Ideally, writers will have an interest in addressing signal, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum critical capability needs and may come from government solution providers, commercial vendors or academic institutions.

January 9, 2017
Perdix microdrones launched from F/A-18 Super Hornets demonstrate advanced swarming capabilities, including collective decision making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing.

The U.S. Defense Department announced today that in October 2016 it successfully demonstrated one of the world’s largest microdrone swarms at China Lake, California. The demonstration consisted of 103 Perdix drones launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornets. The microdrones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing.  

The Naval Air Systems Command and the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) are partnering on the effort. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter created the SCO in 2012 to boost Defense Department innovation.

December 21, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

Calling all codebreakers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, needs the public's help to head off what officials say is a looming threat to information security: quantum computers.

It is believed that futuristic quantum computers significantly will outperform the supercomputers of today, an advancement that potentially could break encryption codes used to protect privacy in digital systems. The agency needs methods and strategies from the world’s cryptographers.

December 21, 2016
By Julianne Simpson

Brigham Young University (BYU) is developing a web middleware tool that will improve the Internet website authentication process and online security. TrustBase, an open-source product, will support mobile and desktop operating systems using local and cloud-based services. Operating systems will enable the middleware to notify the user of untrustworthy sites independent of the application in use.

December 20, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
A U.S. Navy buoyancy glider, similar to one that was seized December 15, 2016, by the Chinese navy. The vessel was returned to the U.S. Navy December 20.

Chinese naval forces returned a U.S. Navy underwater, unmanned research vessel on Tuesday, near the location where it was unlawfully seized late last week, according to a U.S. Defense Department statement.

December 16, 2016
By Sandra Jontz
USNS Bowditch

A Chinese military ship seized a U.S. underwater, unmanned research vessel, prompting the U.S. Defense Department to launch “appropriate government-to-government channels” with the Chinese government to immediately return the vessel. On Thursday, China unlawfully seized the unclassified ocean glider while sailing in the South China Sea, according to a Defense Department news release. 

The USNS Bowditch and the unmanned underwater vessel (UUV) are used to gather military oceanographic data such as salinity, water temperature and sound speed, the release states. 

December 13, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency has announced that ZeroPoint, an exploit detection and analytics tool, has spun off as a startup company called ZeroPoint Dynamics.

December 13, 2016

Federal employees are frustrated by slow and unreliable applications, a quandary they say impedes them from getting their work done and diminishes confidence in information technology modernization efforts, according to survey results released today by Riverbed Technology, an application performance company.

Of the 335 federal employees surveyed, nearly a third said it takes more than 24 hours for agency IT managers to address application failures, despite clear processes in place to report problems.

December 12, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced that the Department of Commerce Digital Attaché Program will expand to six new markets: South Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Germany and France.

December 1, 2016
By Sandra Jontz

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or IARPA, has selected its winners from its crowd-sourced Multi-View Stereo 3-D Mapping Challenge—a contest to see who could best convert satellite photos into 3-D models to create more accurate maps.

The top challenge solvers demonstrated their solutions during an all-day workshop Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The open source solutions were released during the event and will be made available to the public on an IARPA website.

November 29, 2016
By Julianne Simpson
With support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have designed a portable measurement system to monitor the amount of electricity used by individual household appliances, lighting fixtures and electronic devices.

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), have developed a portable measurement system to precisely and inexpensively monitor the amount the electricity used by individual household appliances, lighting fixtures and electronic devices.

The system was developed by MIT professor Dr. Steven Leeb and one of his graduate students, Dr. John Donnal, a former U.S. Army captain. Five postage stamp-sized sensors are placed above or near power lines coming into a house and are designed to be self-calibrating—enabling them to automatically pinpoint the strongest electrical signals.

November 29, 2016

The Kill Chain Integration Branch at Hanscom Air Force Base has begun an experimentation campaign, known as Data-to-Decisions, to look at ways to provide warfighters data in the fastest and most efficient way possible. The campaign is in its early stages but, according to officials, already showing the potential for favorable results.

November 29, 2016

Recent technological advances have brought the on-orbit robotic servicing of satellites closer to reality. Now the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has kicked off the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS) to tackle the lack of clear, widely accepted technical and safety standards for responsible performance of on-orbit activities involving commercial satellites.

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