Fiscal Year: 2005
Title: The Microwave Ionosphere Reconfiguration Ground-based Emitter (MIRAGE)
Award Amount: $99,953.00
Agency / Branch: DOD / USAF
Abstract: Research Support Instruments, Inc. (RSI) proposes to develop the Microwave Ionosphere Reconfiguration Ground-based Emitter (MIRAGE). MIRAGE will use a novel combination of an inexpensive, portable microwave transmitter array on the ground and a small chaff-carrying launch vehicle in the air. The goal will be the creation of artificial ionization, either below or within the ionosphere, for a variety of tactical purposes including reflection of signals for over-the-horizon radar or radio transmissions as well as jamming of satellite signals to the ground. The concept will utilize RSI's experience in atmospheric pressure microwave plasmas to produce a mobile solution to future Air Force challenges in radar and radio communications. Microwave power less than that required for breakdown will encounter metal chaff released by the small rocket, triggering formation of a microwave plasma. This plasma can be formed below the natural ionosphere to produce an artificial ionosphere, or modify the natural ionosphere. MIRAGE would fit in mobile trailers and be easily assembled in theater operations. In Phase I, RSI will demonstrate free-space microwave plasma breakdown using metal field enhancement at short range in the laboratory, and use the results to predict scaling and design a large-scale system for Phase II.