News Briefs

July 1, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The inertial navigation system (INS) market size is estimated to be $2.75 billion in 2014 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.98 percent to reach $4.63 billion by 2019, according to Research and Markets, a Dublin-based market analysis firm. Though North America and Europe have the largest market for INS in terms of commercial and defense aviation, military and naval applications, a lot of INS development programs have been launched in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

June 26, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Four companies have been tapped to design the next generation of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). They are Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation, The Boeing Company, Karem Aircraft Incorporated and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

Current designs of VTOL aircraft have not been able to increase top speeds without sacrificing range, according to the agency. The VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) “seeks to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and the rotary-wing worlds, to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruise flight capabilities,” the agency states.

June 26, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The U.S. Army now has a modified radar system that can detect roadside bombs, day or night and in any weather, from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories developed a modified miniature synthetic aperture radar (MiniSAR) system mounted on UAVs. While they have been demonstrating the technology, also called the Copperhead system, for troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq since 2009, it was not until recently that Sandia Labs transferred it to the Army, according to a company news release.

June 12, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The White House is going green. Well, more like slate gray. And only on the roof.

The White House’s recently installed rooftop solar panels generate renewable energy from the sun and help in lowering the residence’s energy costs. Over the past eight years, use of solar electricity in the United States has increased 10-fold, and added 23,682 jobs last year, mostly in the installation field, according to a survey by the nonprofit Solar Foundation.

June 10, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authorized the first commercial drone to fly over land, giving the OK to energy giant BP Exploration (Alaska) Incorporated, which can use it to provide mapping, geographic information system (GIS) and other commercial information services at its Prudhoe Bay oil field, the largest oil field in the United States.

June 9, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

In a new twist, middle and high school participants of the fourth annual SeaPerch National Challenge were able to monitor their underwater robots as they navigated obstacle courses thanks to technology sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) Foundation, according to press releases.

June 4, 2014
By Jim Sweeney

An employee at the Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Health Administration (VHA) received the 2013 Federal Library Technician of the Year award from the Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK). Brandan Carroll, a library technician with the VHA’s Veterans Integrated Service Network 1 (VISN1), Bedford, Massachusetts, was recognized for "exceptional technical competency and commitment to service excellence." He has used new technology to improve VISN1 library services, created new offerings for patrons and aided his colleagues in improving work processes.

June 5, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) has teamed with the U.S. Navy to use naval technology to better forecast ocean currents and possible dangers that now can be employed for commercial and public use, according to a press release.

June 2, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Robert Cardillo has been named the next director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He takes over as leader in October 2014.
May 28, 2014
By Rita Boland

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have launched a project called Beyond Moore Computing to discover the future of computing. Possibilities include next-generation supercomputers, systems that learn autonomously and machines that require less energy. The plateauing of Moore’s Law is causing an increase in energy costs for modern scientific computers that eventually will make supercomputers impractical because of enormous energy consumption. New computer architectures are required to solve the problem. A major focus will be on the transistor level. Experts at Sandia foresee multiple computing device-level technologies rather than one dominant architecture.

May 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) gave a sneak preview Wednesday to an impressive collection of promise-to-change-the world projects—technology such as the High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS), software built in from inception to negate security vulnerabilities to just about anything operated by a computer. And that means just about anything.

From keyless entry automobiles, to bomb bots, drones, power grids, home security systems, even refrigerators—the HACMS engineers are writing software to safeguard networked, embedded information technology systems from hackers and attackers, be they nation states, terrorists, criminals or malicious teenagers, says Program Manager Kathleen Fisher.

May 22, 2014
By George I. Seffers

Just as the U.S. Navy initially resisted the transition from sail to steam-powered ships and elements of the Army dismissed air power and fought against the shift from horses to tanks, some parts of the military continue to resist the expansion of uninhabited systems into traditional combat roles. As a result, the U.S. Defense Department is failing to invest in game-changing technology that could increase efficiencies and save lives, according to a just-released report from the Center for a New American Security.

May 22, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Army has released a draft request for proposals to procure additional Rifleman Radios, moving the system toward full rate production. The Rifleman Radio is part of the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit program. Under the full and open competition approach, the Army will award contracts, and qualified vendors will compete for delivery orders as needed.

May 22, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Fred Downs shows off his new prosthetic arm developed by DEKA Research and Development Corporation and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). By Sandra JontzIt took four decades for Fred Downs to be able to pinch himself with his left hand. Or open a jar. Or turn a key in the front door of his Virginia home.

Downs now sports a new prosthetic arm funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and which only last week received Food and Drug Agency approval for commercial use.

May 21, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the U.S. Navy successfully conducted the first flight test of the Aegis Ashore system at the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex and Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), according to a Defense Department news release. 
The Aegis Weapon System fired a Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IB guided missile from the Vertical Launch System (VLS), which successfully acquired, tracked and engaged a simulated ballistic missile target. A live target missile launch was not planned for Tuesday’s flight test.

May 20, 2014
By George I. Seffers

People with access to privileged data—such as health care records, sensitive company information, intellectual property or personal records—frequently put their organization’s sensitive information at risk, according to a new report by Raytheon Company. The survey report, “Privileged User Abuse & The Insider Threat,” finds that many individuals often are granted access to data and areas of the network not necessary for their roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, 65 percent of survey respondents indicated that curiosity—not job necessity—drives them to access sensitive or confidential data.

Key findings include:

May 15, 2014
By Sandra Jontz

Researchers are working on a computer that just could soon do the thinking for humans. Computers today, while advanced, still mostly perform calculating functions using a central processing unit and memory that stores both a program and data, taking direction from the program and data from memory to function. Sandia National Laboratories researchers are developing “neuro-inspired” computing systems to work basically like human brains. They could detect patterns and anomalies to computing solutions.

May 9, 2014
By George I. Seffers

The U.S. Navy has evaluated color-coded chemical detection technology known as colorimetric explosive detection kits, the service recently announced. Colorimetric detection technology is based upon a series of chemical reactions that produce a visual response, most often in the form of a color change dependent upon the molecular structure of the compounds being tested. 

May 7, 2014
By Sandra Jontz
Scientists will use the new capability to study the formation of interstellar grains in the outflow of carbon stars.

NASA scientists at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, reproduced the processes that occur in the atmosphere of a red giant star and lead to the formation of planet-forming interstellar dust.


At Ames, scientists use a specialized facility called the Cosmic Simulation Chamber (COSmIC) to recreate and study dust grains similar to those that form in the outer layers of dying stars. The research can help them understand the composition and evolution of the universe and creation of planets, to include Earth-like planets, according to a news statement.

May 5, 2014
By Maryann Lawlor

Sandia National Laboratories' Predicting Performance Margins (PPM) project is working on improving the understanding of material science. The long-term, multidisciplinary program aims at identifying how material variability affects performance margins for an engineering component or machine part. The goal is to determine a science-based foundation for materials design and analysis to help predict how they will perform in specific applications. The research could lead to safer and more reliable spacecraft, bridges, power grids, cars, nuclear power plants and other complex engineered systems.

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