Dr. Jack Carpenter, Dr. William Reidy, and Mr. Harold Richardson, three former staff members of American Science and Engineering, founded Visidyne, Inc. in 1969. It was a time when the Cold War was playing a major role in the scientific projects of the United States. The first efforts were studies and modeling of infrared backgrounds in the upper atmosphere resulting from high-altitude nuclear detonations. Visidyne built unique infrared and vacuum ultraviolet sensors for measuring the atmospheric effects of these high altitude nuclear tests. Many of the early employees who joined Visidyne had participated in the atmospheric nuclear tests of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In the early 1970's, with the moratorium on nuclear tests firmly established, Visidyne became involved in the study of natural auroras as a simulator of some of the expected high altitude nuclear effects, and designed instrumentation for rocket payloads launched into auroral arcs from an Alaskan test range. While natural auroras provided data that could be related to nuclear backgrounds, their erratic nature made long term studies difficult. So with support from the Defense Atomic Support Agency and the U.S. Air Force in the mid-1970s, Visidyne began a program to develop a method for creating artificial auroras by utilizing a rocket-borne electron accelerator. This was accomplished concurrently with the development of new instrumentation and modeling studies. The artificial aurora program culminated with the successful launch in 1990 by the Space Dynamics Laboratory/Utah State University of the EXCEDE III experiment, a mother-daughter rocket probe whose payload included (among others) nine instruments designed and fabricated by Visidyne.
During the 1970s, Visidyne began development of commercial products. The most successful was a portable microfiche reader. Several models were produced and sold to customers such as Digital Equipment Corporation, Burroughs, Compugraphics, Honeywell, and through GSA, to various agencies of the U.S. Army and Navy.
In the late 1970s, Visidyne began a period of involvement in high-altitude balloon-borne payload programs. Payloads were designed for staring at Earth infrared backgrounds, measuring various atmospheric parameters with lidar systems, and tracking rocket launch plumes.
A variety of instruments, some developed by Visidyne, are currently being flown on the Air Force’s Flying Infrared Signatures Technology Aircraft (FISTA; later re-designated as SIGEX - the Air Force Signatures Exploitation Aircraft). Visidyne personnel are doing much of the data analysis and experiment planning. As part of these efforts, Visidyne is certified for Class II KC-135 modification.
Visidyne also designed and fabricated space-qualified instrumentation for the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) satellite that was launched in 1996. This work was sponsored by BMDO (integrated by John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory). The satellite’s primary mission was to serve as a long duration collection platform, and it continued to supply data until it was recently deactivated. Visidyne constructed instrumentation to measure aerosols in the vicinity of the spacecraft and also fabricated a sensor to measure nearby water vapor using ultraviolet active and passive techniques. Visidyne personnel also supported this program in analysis of much of the infrared data acquired during the satellite active phase.
Beginning in 1992, Dr. A.T. Stair and SDL/USU officials were directed by the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) to engage the Russians in theater Missile Defense. This effort has become known as RAMOS (the Russian American Observational Satellite) program, and supports International Cooperative Technology Experiments under the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, now known as the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). RAMOS is a cooperative R&D program between the United States and Russia that has both defense (early warning and missile tracking) and environmental-related objectives (such as hurricane prediction and monitoring of environmental disasters). The spaceborne platforms for this work will consist of a pair of satellites that will provide stereo views of selected areas of the earth as well as being able to demonstrate tracking capability of rockets. To view MDA's RAMOS FACT sheet click here.
Other currently-active government-sponsored technology developments include:
(1) A 3D imager (camera) using lidar-based phase-derived range and an active focal plane array being developed by MIT/Lincoln Laboratory. This technology, for example, could form the basis for real time sniper location.
(2) An ultrasensitive (pico tesla-level) small magnetic sensor that does not require cryogenic components
(3) Polarization modeling of clouds and aerosols
In recent years, Visidyne has added the expertise of other personnel and has created outlying new offices in addition to expanding its corporate headquarters in Burlington, MA. In 1987, Visidyne added the services of Dr. Peter Hirsch, an acknowledged expert as AT&T's Senior Scientist in acoustic discrimination techniques, and currently has an office in Tucson, AZ. In 1991, Visidyne acquired personnel formerly with the Nuclear Group of Physical Research, Inc., headed by Dr. Timothy Stephens. Their work paralleled the theoretical programs with which Visidyne had been involved since its inception. With this addition, Visidyne opened offices in Huntsville, AL and Santa Barbara, CA. Dr. A. T. Stair, Jr., former Chief Scientist at the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory, joined the corporation in 1994, bringing with him his expertise and background of many years in atmospheric studies. In 1997, Visidyne merged with PhotoMetrics, Inc. of Woburn, MA, bringing onboard Dr. Gilbert Davidson and his staff with their extensive lidar experience and related experimental and theoretical expertise.
Two full professors of Physics/Astronomy at MIT, Dr. Saul Rappaport (Visidyne's Chief Scientist) and Dr. Paul Joss, are part of our staff. World famous scientific experts are engaged as consultants on a routine basis. Located in the greater Boston area with close association with the local high-quality universities, particularly MIT, and as a member of the New England Small Business Association, Visidyne contracts with a wide range of both technical and managerial expertise as needed.