Monday, May 6, 2019

Feds deploy system to detect nuclear threats

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Seattle (courtesy Pixabay)

Seattle (courtesy Pixabay)

A federal program designed to collect data from sensors and use algorithms to indicate the lethality of nuclear and radiological threats is being deployed after successful operational tests.

And its components are being made “more robust” so it can detect chemical, biological and explosive threats as well.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s SIGMA program, which began in 2014, “has demonstrated a city-scale capability for detecting radiological and nuclear threats.”

The plan is for it to function as a warning “across the full chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threat space,” the agency said in an online report.

The next generation is called ChemSIGMA.

“The algorithms were developed using a custom simulation engine that fuses multiple detector inputs,” explained Anne Fischer, of the agency’s Defense Sciences Office.

“We built the algorithms based on simulant releases in a large metropolitan area – so we took existing data to build the algorithms for this network framework. With this network, we’re able to use just the chemical sensor outputs and wind measurements to look at chemical threat dynamics in real time, how those chemical threats evolve over time, and threat concentration as it might move throughout an area.”

The report said that in a pilot study, a “small network” of sensors was assembled. Using the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, an on-site test was run last year.

The study tested the system’s performance and its ability to operate in a metropolitan area and suppress false signals, DARPA said.

“Significantly, the network-level algorithm successfully improved system performance by correctly suppressing false detection events at the individual detector level. The group of DARPA researchers was also able to collect a large relevant data set and valuable user feedback that will guide ongoing system development efforts,” the government agency said.

Later tests released a non-hazardous chemical simulant rinto the air “at a realistic threat rate.”

“Concert fog was also released to serve as a visible tracer. The propagation of the visible tracer was observed in aerial photography, and ChemSIGMA sensors and algorithms determined the release location with unprecedented accuracy. The web-based ChemSIGMA interface allows the user to view alerts in real time across a variety of devices. Multiple trials were conducted over the course of several days assessing performance over a variety of meteorological conditions. Releases occurred during daytime and nighttime with a full range of wind directions and speeds. The ChemSIGMA prototype system detected all of the simulant releases and generated zero false alarms over the course of testing,” the report said.

“We’re looking at how we might make this network more robust and more mature,” Fischer said. “For example, we implemented a network at Dugway Proving Ground as part of a DoD test for simulant releases, and have shown that the network can respond to a number of chemical simulant threats different than those used in Indianapolis, as well as built-in capabilities for mobile releases. Over the past few months, the team has used these data sets to further refine the algorithms, and plans to integrate and test them with the ChemSIGMA system in test events scheduled later this year.”

Work now includes advancing sensor modalities, such as mass spectrometry and long-range spectroscopic systems, which will be built into the program when they are proven effective, DARPA said.

The post Feds deploy system to detect nuclear threats appeared first on WND.

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