Space and Marine Technology Laboratory | SRI International

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Space and Marine Technology Laboratory

SRI’s Space and Marine Technology Laboratory provides innovative engineering and operations solutions for use in the extreme conditions of space and marine environments. Clients include nearly all U.S. defense and intelligence community organizations, as well as civil space organizations and commercial entities.

Our two multidisciplinary and complementary teams include Space Technology and Integration at SRI’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and Marine and Space Sensing in SRI’s St. Petersburg, Florida, facility.

Space Technology and Integration

SRI’s Space Technology and Integration group specializes in space payload and instrument development, systems engineering, flight mission integration, and ground facilities for mission support. End-to-end systems use technologies and innovations developed at SRI and elsewhere.

The group works in four main areas:

  • Launch integration: We are improving access to space through deployment of small satellites known as picosatellites. For several years, we have partnered with California Polytechnic State University and the Naval Postgraduate School for launch integration.

    Work involves integrating CubeSats (miniaturized satellites) built by universities, government entities, and companies into Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (P-PODs); detailed interactions with NASA, Department of Defense clients, and launch providers; pre- and post-launch support; and continued maintenance of CubeSat standards.
  • Sources and sensors: Our team offers deep experience in the design, development, integration, and testing of space-qualified payloads for CubeSats and larger satellites. We also advise clients about space environments and applications. Multidisciplinary projects include, for example, partnering with SRI’s Communications, Radar, and Sensing Program; Center for Geospace Studies; and Robotics Program in the design and development of sensors, payloads, and small satellites.

    We reduce the size, mass, and power needs of small satellite subsystems while maintaining the needed robustness for survivability in space. We also partner with SRI’s microscience engineering experts to integrate micro- and nanotechnologies such as electron and ion sources into small satellite systems.
  • Operations: We maintain 3-, 18-, and 47-meter dishes (such as “the Dish” radio antenna facility) to support research and operations that have space-based assets. The dishes transmit and receive radio frequency (RF) signals, measure and analyze data from satellites near earth and in deep space, communicate with CubeSats and larger satellites, and perform other activities for government and commercial clients.

    For more than a decade, we have supported command and control operations for dozens of small satellite missions using these dishes and other SRI-managed satellite communication systems.
  • Missions: Our team creates innovative concepts enabled by small spacecraft such as CubeSats. We develop and demonstrate systems for space situational awareness, networking technology for coordinated operations, sensor nets enabled by femtosats, and orbital clusters of distributed spacecraft.

Marine and Space Sensor Instrumentation and Systems

SRI’s Marine and Space Sensing group develops marine instrumentation and miniature instruments suitable for space. Projects involve design, development, experiments, deployment, and operation of advanced sensors and their systems.

Our approach includes integrating sensor feedback for dynamic sampling in extreme environments and presenting it as near-real-time actionable information in customized user formats. We provide

  • Sensing solutions and technology innovations for the oil gas industry
  • Marine system-sensing solutions for the U.S. Navy and other defense organizations
  • Contributions to monitoring and mitigating ocean acidification and global climate change
  • Advanced sensor solutions for environmental science and monitoring
  • Microsystems development for space applications and the use of small satellites for marine science

Our interdisciplinary staff of scientists and engineers offers expertise in

  • High-performance marine chemical sensors, ultimately for use in unattended pervasive networks. Projects include in situ mass spectrometer (MS) systems for aquatic and other harsh environments, novel power sources, and micro-fabrication of MS components and systems.
  • Optically based instruments and systems for real-time, in situ monitoring of oceanographic and environmental processes. Expertise ranges from optical and electronic design to image processing and chemical oceanography.
  • Software and hardware design, development, and field deployment for marine and space operations.