As part of NASA’s Hurricane Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) missions, video processing technology from GE Intelligent Platforms was deployed onboard NASA’s Global Hawk unmanned aircraft. The rugged full-motion-video (FMV) compression appliance, the GE daq8580, provides visual situational awareness. The missions are a joint partnership between NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and use the autonomous Global Hawk to conduct atmospheric research initiatives.
The Global Hawk aircraft reaches altitudes above 60,000 feet and covers more than 20,000 kilometers in extended 30-hour missions. The scope of the missions includes high-altitude monitoring of ozone-depleting molecules, as well as the study of cyclones in the arctic-influencing weather patterns.
The daq8580 is a multichannel FMV compression appliance for processing, server, and storage applications in harsh, constrained environments. The tool provides compute power for video compression/decompression, video switching, format conversions, scaling, blending, and other video processing functions.
“NASA selected GE’s daq8580 video compression technology to enable multiple video capabilities on Global Hawk missions,” said Don Sullivan, Biospheric Science Engineer at NASA. “It allows us to ingest high-bandwidth, high-resolution video streams from the onboard sensors and compress the data by factors as large as 100:1. The reduced bandwidth video feed can then be transmitted over the communication link to the ground station for observation and analysis.”
The system’s open architecture also enables a cost-effective integration within Global Hawk’s other systems. The technology’s support for CameraLink, an industry standard protocol, gives NASA substantial flexibility as well. NASA expects to deploy several more units over the next two years.