Government Agency, University Join to Develop Optical Sensors

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The Space Dynamics Laboratory and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are increasing collaboration on the design and calibration of spacecraft sensors, according to officials with both organizations.

The two organizations signed an agreement March 11 in the Washington office of Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah). The deal formalizes existing cooperative arrangements, and lays the groundwork for additional teaming on optical sensors for the military, homeland security and weather prediction, the officials said.

The Space Dynamics Laboratory and NIST have worked together on spacecraft instruments since the 1970s, making use of the school’s 4,000 square meter Calibration and Optical Research Laboratory, said Stan Albrecht, president of Utah State University, which owns the nonprofit Space Dynamics Laboratory research corporation.

The joint work between the two organizations in calibrating satellite sensors has helped ensure that U.S. government satellites deliver accurate data, said Hratch Semerjian, the acting director of NIST.

The two organizations have elected to boost their collaboration as technology in this area has become increasingly complex, Semerjian said. One area that could benefit from increased collaboration is the development of smaller sensors based on nanotechnology, he said.