Imaging

3D Imaging Laser System

The system achieves high-resolution, real-time, three-dimensional imaging using an innovative single lens system. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a non-scanning, 3D imaging laser system that uses a simple lens system to simultaneously generate a one-dimensional or two-dimensional array of optical (light) spots to illuminate an object, surface, or image to generate a topographic profile.

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Smart Image Enhancement Process

Applications include improving pilot vision, real-time digital enhancement of videos, medical imaging, and thermal and night vision for surveillance systems. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia NASA’s Langley Research Center researchers have developed an automatic measurement and control method for smart image enhancement. Pilots, doctors, and photographers will benefit from this innovation that offers a new approach to image processing. Initial advantages will be seen in improved medical imaging and nighttime photography. Standard image enhancement software is unable to improve poor quality conditions such as low light, poor clarity, and fog-like conditions. The technology consists of a set of comprehensive methods that performs well across a wide range of conditions encountered in arbitrary images. Conditions include large variations in lighting, scene characteristics, and atmospheric (or underwater) turbidity variations. NASA is seeking market insights on commercialization of this new technology, and welcomes interest from potential producers, users, and licensees.

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Compact Thermal Neutron Imaging System Using Axisymmetric Focusing Mirrors

This technology uses grazing incidence reflective optics to produce focused beams of neutrons from commercially available sources. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center has developed novel neutron grazing incidence optics for use with small-scale portable neutron generators. The technology was developed to enable the use of commercially available neutron generators for applications requiring high flux densities, including high-performance imaging and analysis. Nested grazing incidence mirror optics, with high collection efficiency, are used to produce divergent, parallel, or convergent neutron beams. Ray tracing simulations of the system (with source-object separation of 10 m for 5 meV neutrons) show nearly an order of magnitude neutron flux increase on a 1-mm-diameter object. The technology is a result of joint development efforts between NASA and MIT researchers seeking to maximize neutron flux from diffuse sources for imaging and testing applications.

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High-Speed Edge-Detecting Circuit for Use with Linear Image Sensor

Applications include supersonic jets, manufacturing, lane line tracking for vehicle control, bar code scanners, and digital photography. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio A new smart camera developed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center has the ability to process and transmit valuable edge location data for the images that it captures — at a rate of over 900 frames per second. The camera was designed to operate as a component in an inlet shock detection system for supersonic jets. A supersonic jet cannot function properly unless the airflow entering the machine is compressed and slowed to subsonic speed in the inlet before it reaches the engine. When supersonic air is compressed, it forms shock waves that can destroy the turbofan and surrounding components unless they are pinpointed and adjusted. This smart camera uses an edge detection signal processing circuit to determine the exact location of shock waves, and sends the location information via an onboard microcontroller or external digital interface. This highly customizable camera’s ability to quickly identify precise location data makes it ideal for a variety of other applications where high-speed edge detection is needed.

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Two- and Three-Dimensional Near-Infrared Subcutaneous Structure Imager Using Adaptive Nonlinear Video Processing

The battery-powered system uses off-the-shelf near-infrared technology that is not affected by melanin content, and can also operate in dark environments. John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio Scientists at NASA’s Glenn Research Center have successfully developed a novel subcutaneous structure imager for locating veins in challenging patient populations, such as juvenile, elderly, dark-skinned, or obese patients. Spurred initially by the needs of pediatric sickle-cell anemia patients in Africa, Glenn’s groundbreaking system includes a camera-processor-display apparatus and uses an innovative image-processing method to provide two- or three-dimensional, high-contrast visualization of veins or other vasculature structures. In addition to assisting practitioners to find veins in challenging populations, this system can also help novice healthcare workers locate veins for procedures such as needle insertion or excision. Compared to other state-of-the-art solutions, the imager is inexpensive, compact, and very portable, so it can be used in remote third-world areas, emergency response situations, or military battlefields.

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Methods of Real-Time Image Enhancement of Flash LIDAR Data and Navigating a Vehicle Using Flash LIDAR Data

Applications include robotic ground vehicle collision avoidance, topographical/terrain mapping, and automotive adaptive cruise control. Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia The original (left) and enhanced resolution Flash LIDAR images. NASA’s Langley Research Center has developed 3D imaging technologies (Flash LIDAR) for real-time terrain mapping and synthetic vision-based navigation. To take advantage of the information inherent in a sequence of 3D images acquired at video rates, NASA Langley has also developed an embedded image-processing algorithm that can simultaneously correct, enhance, and derive relative motion by processing this image sequence into a high-resolution 3D synthetic image. Traditional scanning LIDAR techniques generate an image frame by raster scanning an image one laser pulse per pixel at a time, whereas Flash LIDAR acquires an image much like an ordinary camera, generating an image using a single laser pulse. The benefits of the Flash LIDAR technique and the corresponding image-to-image processing enable autonomous vision-based guidance and control for robotic systems. The current algorithm offers up to eight times image resolution enhancement, as well as a 6-degree-of-freedom state vector of motion in the image frame.

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Spatially Aberrated Spectral Filtering for High-Performance Spectral Imaging

This innovation has application in the biomedical research, semiconductor, and analysis/characterization fields. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California High-performance thermal imagers like Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) currently use a three-mirror anastigmat (TMA) optical design to image remote targets. A TMA telescope is built with three curved mirrors, enabling it to minimize all three main optical aberrations: spherical aberration, coma, and astigmatism. This is primarily used to enable wide fields of view, much larger than possible with telescopes with just one or two curved surfaces.

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A Common-Mode Digital Holographic Microscope

This instrument has no moving parts and allows scientists to image in 3D and in real time. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Digital holography is a fast-growing field in optics, recently spurred by the advent of large-format digital cameras and high-speed computers. This method provides a time-series of volumetric information about a sample, but the instrument itself has no moving parts. It does not compromise performance such as image quality and spatial resolution. However, these systems are typically implemented as optical interferometers with two separate beam paths: one is the reference beam and the other is the science beam. Interferometers are sensitive instruments that are subject to misalignment, and they will have significantly reduced performance in the presence of mechanical vibrations.

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Continental-Scale Mapping of Adélie Penguin Colonies from Landsat Imagery

Remote sensing is used for biological conservation. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The Adélie penguin has a circum-Antarctic distribution and is widely considered a useful indicator of status and change in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems. Breeding distribution of the Adélie penguin was surveyed with Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) over the entire continent of Antarctica. An algorithm was designed to minimize radiometric noise and to retrieve Adélie penguin colony location and spatial extent from the ETM+ data. In all, 259 ETM+ scenes were selected from the Lansdat archive from the 1999–2003 era and were used in the retrieval. Pixel clustering identified a total of 244 individual Adélie penguin colonies, ranging in size from a single pixel (900 m2) to a maximum of 875 pixels (0.788 km2). The Landsat retrievals successfully located Adélie penguin colonies that accounted for ≈96 to 97% of the regional population used as ground truth, with errors of omission and commission on the order of only 1 to 2%.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Environmental Monitoring, Imaging, Photonics

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Photogrammetric-Based Pose Initialization and Propagation for Inertial Navigation Systems

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California The purpose of the Pose Initialization and Propagation (PIP) system is to provide an absolute navigational solution (position, velocity, and attitude) to a moving vehicle without using GPS. This was developed as a navigation system for rocket launches in a GPS-denied environment, but it is applicable to a variety of moving vehicles. It was designed to be integrated with JPL’s Terrain Relative Navigation system as a test of the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) system. It was successfully used by JPL on Masten Space Systems’ Xombie vehicle in 2014.

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