Redstone Report: Chaos provides blueprints for radar technology

The Weapon Sciences Directorate on the Arsenal deals in sonar and radar.
The Weapon Sciences Directorate on the Arsenal deals in sonar and radar.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - This week's "Redstone Report" is a little "chaotic." WAFF 48 News stopped by the Weapon Sciences Directorate on the Arsenal to learn more about the chaos and how it is playing a part in sonar and radar system developments.

Jonathan Blakely, a research scientist at the Weapon Sciences Directorate, explained what chaos is. "Chaos is when you get a very complicated behavior out of a very simple physical system."

Pinning down an exact solution in the study of chaos is difficult, but Blakely and his team have managed to do it. "We've kind of invented chaotic systems where they do have solutions that you can quantify mathematically," said Blakely.

They're now using those solutions in a sonar system. Blakely said, "We built chaotic circuits that produce audio frequency oscillations. We broadcast that by putting that out of a speaker." That speaker is in an anechoic chamber, which means there are no echoes.

Despite how it looks, the system is actually quite simple compared to a conventional radar because there is no computer or processor required.

Blakely explains it's the simplicity that makes it so attractive to buyers like the military, "It'd be good for lots of military operations if you want low cost, light weight, simple equipment."

The team has been working on the project for about three years. Now that they've been able to prove that chaotic circuits can be used in certain types of ranging, they will begin shifting their work to translating the system from sonar, which uses sound waves, to radar, which uses radio waves.

Copyright 2013 WAFF. All rights reserved.