A Shack-Hartmann sensor (SHS) is an optical instrument consisting of a lenslet array and a camera. It is widely used for wavefront sensing in optical testing and astronomical adaptive optics. The camera is placed at the focal point of the lenslet array and points at a star or any other point source. The image captured is an array of spot images. When the wavefront error at the lenslet array changes, the position of each spot measurably shifts from its original position. Determining the shifts of the spot images from their reference points shows the extent of the wavefront error.

An adaptive cross-correlation (ACC) algorithm has been developed to use scenes as well as point sources for wavefront error detection. Qualifying an extended scene image is often not an easy task due to changing conditions in scene content, illumination level, background, Poisson noise, read-out noise, dark current, sampling format, and field of view. The proposed new technique based on ACC algorithm analyzes the effects of these conditions on the performance of the ACC algorithm and determines the viability of an extended scene image. If it is viable, then it can be used for error correction; if it is not, the image fails and will not be further processed. By potentially testing for a wide variety of conditions, the algorithm’s accuracy can be virtually guaranteed.

In a typical application, the ACC algorithm finds image shifts of more than 500 Shack-Hartmann camera sub-images relative to a reference sub-image or cell when performing one wavefront sensing iteration. In the proposed new technique, a pair of test and reference cells is selected from the same frame, preferably from two well-separated locations. The test cell is shifted by an integer number of pixels, say, for example, from m=–5 to 5 along the x-direction by choosing a different area on the same sub-image, and the shifts are estimated using the ACC algorithm. The same is done in the y-direction. If the resulting shift estimate errors are less than a pre-determined threshold (e.g., 0.03 pixel), the image is accepted. Otherwise, it is rejected.

This work was done by Erkin Sidick of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-46582.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2009 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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