Polaris Sensor Technologies, Inc.

Homing in at Hypersonic Speeds

As vehicles fly faster and at lower altitude, critical technologies are needed to ensure successful performance. Challenging hypersonic environments can affect the seeker window performance, causing the vehicle to substantially miss its target or even render the seeker blind.


Advancing Aero-Optics with Next-Gen Solutions

Polaris’s subject matter experts are on the cutting edge of hypervelocity aero-optics research. In the late 1990s, they provided modeling and simulation predictions and sensor requirements, set up optical sensors, and analyzed data for Hyper-Velocity Wind Tunnel No. 9 testing. This tested aero-optical effects on windows in Mach 7 high-enthalpy flow, simulating high-speed seeker flight at low altitude (15km).

Polaris is now developing and testing the Aero-Optics Kit (AOK) to better understand and study the impact of aero-thermal/optical window effects and airflow. This knowledge is essential for improving and confirming high-quality computer models, ensuring our simulations accurately predict what happens during hypersonic flights.

These AOK developments rely on relationships with several governmental agencies and GTFs to help develop and test aero-optic tools. AOK and associated research can be customized to support customers’ missions to defeat a myriad of emerging threats.

Polaris Corporate & Personnel Experience

Polaris brings extensive expertise to the field, with a proven track record in planning, developing, and executing hypervelocity measurements, aero-optical modeling, and simulation.

In-Situ Measurements
Planning, development, and T&E execution of in-situ flow field hypervelocity measurements.
Modeling & Simulation
Development of aero-optical modeling and simulation codes, validated by empirical data, for uncooled and cooled window configurations to evaluate static and dynamic flow features, time-evolving flow structures, and shear layer turbulence over cooled windows, as well as the effects of window deformation and thermal gradients.
Systems Evaluation
Evaluation of aero-optical effects on supersonic and hypersonic systems, as well as for hypersonic wind tunnel test planning and model validation efforts supporting a diverse customer base including MDA, AFRL, Navy, AvMC.
Development Programs
Extensively leverages Phase II SBIR and STTR programs to support hypervelocity aero-optical instrument development.

About AOK

Ground Test Facility (GTF) Challenges

The aero-optical instruments needed for testing at GTFs are large (4’x8’), unique to each facility, and need highly trained engineers to operate. Testing at more than one GTF is not uncommon, and some facilities lack the space for these traditional instruments. In response to these issues, Polaris is developing a solution called the Aero-Optics Kit (AOK).

Improved Aero-Optical Testing with the AOK

The AOK instrument suite optically interrogates hypersonic air flow interactions with airframes and quantifies the impact on seeker image performance. From within the test vehicle, the suite of sensors measures the total impact on an optical seeker as well as the separate component level contributions to seeker error from the window heating, bowing and flow layer interactions. The AOK provides the necessary data from ground tests to validate models and simulations, refine designs, and educate critical design choices.

How it Works

The AOK provides real-time on-board measurements of aero-optical effects on seeker performance. It measures imaging performance, window effects due to aerothermal heating and pressure loading, and aerodynamic flow structures including turbulence with multiple, synchronized sensors.

The AOK mounts inside a test article having either a cooled or an uncooled window. The current AOK modules are designed to work with the Advanced Interceptor Technology (AIT) forebody test fixture for use in hypersonic test facilities. The instrument suite minimizes the need for specialized test setups and tunnel modifications.

Measurement accuracy is enhanced by using the same set of instrumentation within the same test fixture across several wind tunnels. The AOK encourages the widespread use of aero-optic test capabilities across different GTFs.

The AOK Advantage

Ensures Measurement Accuracy

The AOK incorporates test fixtures completely within the interceptor test object. The source optics project a target from outside the test article, providing a more seeker-representative single-pass measurement. These factors eliminate the need for additional test structures and mounts in the flow, resulting in more accurate and reliable data.

Reduces Space and Infrastructure Needs

The AOK minimizes the space and infrastructure requirements, making it more adaptable to different Ground Test Facilities (GTFs) without extensive modifications.

Saves Time & Money

Each AOK Module pairs multiple sensors that validate one another in a single test run. This reduces the number of runs necessary to complete the characterization, saving both time and money, while sensor agreement ensures accuracy in the collected data.

Promotes Consistency Across Facilities

Consistency in testing capabilities ensures that evaluations are comparable across different facilities, contributing to standardized and reliable results. Polaris has relationships with the nation’s foremost test facilities and experience instrumenting these facilities with AOK hardware.

Resources & FAQ

Hypersonic Aero-Optics

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Hypersonic Aero-Optics Flyer

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Hypersonic aero-optics involves studying the impact of induced air flow around an airframe on the performance of an optical seeker during high-speed flight.

Polaris’s subject matter experts lead in hypervelocity aero-optics research, providing a unique combination of instrumentation, capability, and expertise.
The AOK is a novel suite of instruments developed by Polaris to understand aero-optical effects in hypersonic scenarios. It measures seeker imaging performance and aerothermal window effects including Strehl Ratio, bore-site error, wavefront, window transmission, and window temperature. Seeker-imaging performance and wavefront measurements are available in a wide range including visible, SWIR, and MWIR.
The AOK utilizes a combination of catalog sensors with custom electronics, software, and hardware to provide the critical measurements.

The AOK reduces space and infrastructure requirements, making testing more adaptable across different GTFs.

The AOK increases measurement accuracy by eliminating additional structures, reduces space and infrastructure needs, saves time and money by maximizing data from a single test run, and promotes consistency across different facilities.
The AOK and associated research can be customized to address various emerging threats and our customers’ specific mission requirements.
Polaris’s corporate and personnel experience includes planning, development, and execution of hypervelocity measurements, aero-optical modeling and simulation, and leveraging Phase II SBIR and STTR programs for instrument development.

Your Mission is Our Mission

Polaris is here to help you solve challenging problems with cutting-edge technology. We will design, develop, and manufacture the solution you need to complete your mission.

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