Imaging

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.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Measurements, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization
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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.

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.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Mirrors, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization
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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.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Sensors and actuators, Hypersonic and supersonic aircraft
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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.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Cardiovascular system, Medical equipment and supplies
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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

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.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Mathematical models, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Lidar, Navigation and guidance systems, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Lidar, Navigation and guidance systems, Robotics
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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.

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.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Mirrors, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Spacecraft
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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.

Posted in: Briefs, Imaging, Microscopy, Microscopy
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Introduction to Machine Vision

A guide to automating process & quality improvements

Get the basics of how machine vision technology works and why it's the right choice for automating process and quality improvements. The Introduction to Machine Vision whitepaper is the first step to understanding, what is machine vision, what kind of problems does it solve, what components do you need to build a vision system, how to get the most out of your vision system, and more. Read this whitepaper to see why automated inspection is vastly superior to manual techniques.

Posted in: White Papers, Machine Vision, Automation
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Large-Area, Polarization-Sensitive Bolometer for Multi-Mode Optics

This type of detector will be used by the PIXIE mission to map the microwave sky in polarization, opening a new window to the earliest moments of the universe.

Measurements of the cosmic micro wave background are a powerful probe of the early universe. Part-per-million fluctuations in the intensity of background trace the initial conditions of matter and energy shortly after the Big Bang, mapping the large-scale structure of spacetime. Now, new measurements in linear polarization at sensitivities of a few parts per billion can look behind these initial conditions to test physics at energies a trillion times higher than terrestrial accelerators, and perhaps even provide a glimpse of quantum gravity in action.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Measurements, Optics, Sensors and actuators, Optics, Sensors and actuators
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A Novel Orbiting Cloud Imager System for IR/UV/X-Ray Bands

Applications include telecommunications involving satellite links, agile military communication, reconnaissance, and surveillance of ground assets from orbit.

Typically, the cost of a spaceborne imaging system is driven by the size and mass of the primary aperture. Innovative solutions for imagers that are less complex and are lightweight are very desirable. Currently, telescopes such as JWST and ATLAST are very expensive and very complex.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Imaging, Photonics, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Satellite communications, Telecommunications, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Satellite communications, Telecommunications
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