Pentagon's New Weapons: Space Lasers to Control Lightning; Hidden Pods that Could Release Drones at Sea
April 23, 2014
RT News & TG Daily
Pentagon-sponsored researchers have made the reach of an intensive laser beam longer by an order of magnitude. Researchers say their discovery can be used to seed rain and trigger lightning, but the potential scope of applications is much larger -- starting rain on request and control lightning bolts. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is building Upward Falling Payloads (UFP) -- unmanned pods that can be placed on the sea floor where they could launch drones by remote command.
Pentagon-sponsored Study Opens Door for Super Lasers, Weather Control
RT News & TG Daily
(April 19, 2014) -- Pentagon-sponsored researchers have made the reach of an intensive laser beam longer by an order of magnitude. Researchers say their discovery can be used to seed rain and trigger lightning, but the potential scope of applications is much larger.
A short intensive laser pulse produces plasma in its path. This plasma can interact with charged particles in a storm cloud and change weather, starting rain on request and control lightning bolts.
Water condensation and lightning activity in clouds are linked to large amounts of static charged particles. Stimulating those particles with the right kind of laser holds the key to possibly one day summoning a shower when and where it is needed.
Lasers can already travel great distances but "when a laser beam becomes intense enough, it behaves differently than usual -- it collapses inward on itself," said Matthew Mills, a graduate student in the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL). "The collapse becomes so intense that electrons in the air's oxygen and nitrogen are ripped off creating plasma -- basically a soup of electrons."|
At that point, the plasma immediately tries to spread the beam back out, causing a struggle between the spreading and collapsing of an ultra-short laser pulse. This struggle is called filamentation, and creates a filament or "light string" that only propagates for a while until the properties of air make the beam disperse.
"Because a filament creates excited electrons in its wake as it moves, it artificially seeds the conditions necessary for rain and lightning to occur," Mills said. Other researchers have caused "electrical events" in clouds, but not lightning strikes.
But how do you get close enough to direct the beam into the cloud without being blasted to smithereens by lightning?
"What would be nice is to have a sneaky way which allows us to produce an arbitrary long 'filament extension cable.' It turns out that if you wrap a large, low intensity, doughnut-like 'dress' beam around the filament and slowly move it inward, you can provide this arbitrary extension," Mills said.
"Since we have control over the length of a filament with our method, one could seed the conditions needed for a rainstorm from afar. Ultimately, you could artificially control the rain and lightning over a large expanse with such ideas."
So far, Mills and fellow graduate student Ali Miri have been able to extend the pulse from 10 inches to about 7 feet. And they're working to extend the filament even farther.
"This work could ultimately lead to ultra-long optically induced filaments or plasma channels that are otherwise impossible to establish under normal conditions," said professor Demetrios Christodoulides, who is working with the graduate students on the project.
"In principle such dressed filaments could propagate for more than 50 meters or so, thus enabling a number of applications. This family of optical filaments may one day be used to selectively guide microwave signals along very long plasma channels, perhaps for hundreds of meters."
Other possible uses of this technique could be used in long-distance sensors and spectrometers to identify chemical makeup. Development of the technology was supported by a $7.5 million grant from the Department of Defense.
DARPA Producing Sea-floor Pods that Can Release Attack Drones on Command
(April 19, 2014) -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently called for bids to complete the final two phases of its Upward Falling Payloads (UFP) program. The UFP operation is an effort to position unmanned systems around far-flung regions of the sea floor. The housing pods would be left in place for years in anticipation of the US Navy's need for non-lethal assistance.
The UFPs would come equipped with electronic and low-power laser attack capabilities, surveillance sensors, and airborne and aquatic drones that would have the ability to act as decoys or offer intelligence and targeting data, Ars Technica reported.
DARPA recently solicited proposals for the UFP. It wrote, "To succeed, the UFP program must be able to demonstrate a system that can: (angel) survive for years under extreme pressure, (beer) reliably be triggered from standoff commands, and (coffee) rapidly rise through the water column and deploy a non-lethal payload."
Autonomous, non-lethal systems are the priority for DARPA, given the remoteness of the UFPs' stationing on the ocean floor. Recovery in the deep ocean would be difficult, and the pods with weaponry or hazardous materials could cause harm to ships upon expiration.
The UFP program's first phase, launched in 2013, focused on designs for the robot pods and the capsules that will live inside, as well as communication logistics for UFPs to communicate with other modules.
The next phase aims to develop prototype testing and demonstrations at sea in the next couple of years. The third and final stage will include "full depth" testing of various scattered modules working as one system by spring 2017.
Much of the UFP testing will likely occur in the Western Pacific, given the United States' ongoing "pivot" to the region -- not coincidentally near China's realm. Other tests will occur near US shores to reduce costs.
DARPA is seeking a 59 percent increase for the Upward Falling Payloads budget, from $11.9 million to $19 million, it was reported in March.
In addition, DARPA has asked for a boost to its budget for underwater drone fleets. The agency has asked for its current spending to double, from $14.9 million to $29.9 million, for its Hydra program. Hydra was conceived to be a large, mothership-like craft capable of moving through the water and deploying a number of smaller surveillance drones.
http://www.thedailydigest.org/2014/04/14/navy-christens-most-expensive-stealth-destroyer-ever/Navy christens most expensive stealth destroyer ever
http://www.thedailydigest.org/2014/03/28/%e2%80%8bdarpa-project-seeks-hive-mind-for-drones/DARPA project seeks hive mind for drones
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