How do you create the deadliest sniper scope ever? Just add heat

Badass as they are, military snipers are sometimes humbled by heat haze, which can make a clear target look like murky soup. If the boys at DARPA have their way, though, a new kind of sniper scope could turn that haze problem into a hot benefit.

The Super-Resolution Vision System (SRVS) works like this: for fleeting moments, heat haze actually works as a kind of super lens, sharpening and magnifying the object on the other side of it. The SRVS watches for areas of the image that are experiencing this kind of lensing, discarding the rest and assembling a complete picture as it scans the area from moment to moment. The sniper’s eyeball sees only a clear picture, one that’s no longer restricted to the diffraction limit inherent to the scope itself.

An SVRS prototype should be ready by next year, with production units getting to Special Ops units by 2011 — possibly too late to see any real action in Iraq. But if the Super Scope, like other military technologies like GPS before it, eventually trickles down to civilian use, expect to someday see some amazing Discovery Channel specials about animal mating habits in the desert.

New Scientist, via Danger Room