DARPA's SeeMe program (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements) aims to let soldiers hit a "see me" button on a hand-held device such as a smart-phone or tablet and receive a satellite image back in less than 90 minutes.
The system will consist of around two-dozen small satellites at a cost of $500,000 each. Individual satellites will occupy a very low-earth orbit, sweeping a particularly band of the planet every 90 minutes and lasting two or three months before burning up on re-entry. A meeting later this month will bring together experts from the cellphone, car racing and advanced optics industries to discuss how the satellites might be built.
The idea behind the satellites' medium-term lifespan and range is to fill a gap between traditional imaging satellites and UAVs. "SeeMe is a logical adjunct to UAV technology, which will continue to provide local or regional very high-resolution coverage, but which can't cover extended areas without frequent refuelling," says DARPA program manager Dave Barnhart.
Source: newscientist.comAdded: 15 March 2012