An experiment with potential national defense applications, which was designed and built at Utah State University's Space Dynamics Lab, recently flew during a successful rocket launch in Hawaii.
The Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) and the Naval Research Laboratory launched a three-stage rocket from the Kauai Test Facility on February 18, 1991. The USU-constructed Ultraviolet Science Package (UVSP) experiment was included on the launch to gather data on rocket plume signatures.The Ultraviolet Plume Instrument used two cameras to track and record images of the ultraviolet portion of the rocket's exhaust plume at an altitude of approximately 100 kilometers. The images will be used to help researchers learn to pinpoint a rocket's location.
In addition, researchers are finding that objects in space have their own ultraviolet "signatures."
Understanding and recording an object's unique ultraviolet signature will allow researchers to develop a table of the signatures of various types of rockets, which could be used to identify incoming rockets, according to information from the SDIO.