SRI’s custom imaging equipment provides the U.S. Strategic Command the capability of tracking objects as small as a basketball from more than 20,000 miles away. This system is increasingly important as more satellites and equipment are launched, orbited, and eventually decommissioned or abandoned—the U.S. government has tracked more than 20,000 objects in near-Earth space orbit since the 1970s.
SRI’s system provides a substantial upgrade to the strategic command’s Ground-based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance (GEODSS) system, by adding the capability to track multiple objects, and to accomplish that more quickly. The Deep-Space Surveillance Technology Advancement and Replacement for Ebsicons (Deep-STARE) system developed by SRI was added to GEODSS in the early 2000s. SRI remains the sole supplier for Deep-STARE’s charge-coupled device (CCD) camera.
This high-performance imaging system has back-illuminated image sensors. The high-speed, backside, thinned process technology yields 100% fill-factor, and high quantum efficiency. There is a 2550 x 1960 pixel main array, and an integrated 32 x 32 pixel photometer array. For image stability, the imager is packaged in a vacuum assembly that is cooled to -50° C.
SRI designed, fabricated, packaged, integrated, and tested its CCD-based camera system for the surveillance program, and continues to support the camera systems through ongoing sustainment, procurement of spare equipment, and repair efforts.