Episode 34: The Orbital Optician
In this episode of the Voices from DARPA podcast, Stacie Williams, a program manager since 2019 in the agency’s Tactical Technology Office, reveals how a lifelong love of optical and photonic phenomena, beginning with fireflies during her childhood, is now unfolding in her stewardship of ambitious light-and-optics-centric programs at DARPA. One of these, the Deformable Mirror (DeMi) program, recently reached a milestone with the placement from the International Space Station of a dime-sized deformable mirror on a loaf-sized CubeSat platform. The goal of DeMi is to deliver cheaper, lighter, smaller telescope mirrors-in the form of a microelectromechanical system (MEMS)-that could open unprecedented options for space-based ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) technology that, in Stacie’s words, “helps us understand what’s going on with a space eyeview.” In another optics-tech effort under Stacie’s wing, researchers are learning how to design so-called metamaterials-with engineered microstructures that manipulate electromagnetic wavelengths-that also could greatly simplify, lighten, and cheapen far more massive, complex, and expensive conventional telescopes. In the podcast, Stacie also recounts her work beyond technology as a champion of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education for economically disadvantaged communities.
Blubrry (podcast host): https://blubrry.com/voices_from_darpa/69016999/episode-34-the-orbital-optician/
YouTube: iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/voices-from-darpa/id1163190520