An analytical, advanced imaging method has been developed for the initial monitoring and identification of foam debris and similar anomalies that occur post-launch in reference to the space shuttle’s external tank (ET). Remote sensing technologies have been used to perform image enhancement and analysis on high-resolution, true-color images collected with the DCS 760 Kodak digital camera located in the right umbilical well of the space shuttle. Improvements to the camera, using filters, have added sharpness/definition to the image sets; however, image review/analysis of the ET has been limited by the fact that the images acquired by umbilical cameras during launch are two-dimensional, and are usually non-referenceable between frames due to rotation translation of the ET as it falls away from the space shuttle. Use of stereo pairs of these images can enable strong visual indicators that can immediately portray depth perception of damaged areas or movement of fragments between frames is not perceivable in two-dimensional images.

A stereoscopic image visualization system has been developed to allow 3D depth perception of stereo-aligned image pairs taken from in-flight umbilical and handheld digital shuttle cameras. This new system has been developed to augment and optimize existing 2D monitoring capabilities. Using this system, candidate sequential image pairs are identified for transformation into stereo viewing pairs. Image orientation is corrected using control points (similar points) between frames to place the two images in proper X–Y viewing perspective. The images are then imported into the WallView stereo viewing software package. The collected control points are used to generate a transformation equation that is used to re-project one image and effectively co-register it to the other image. The co-registered, oriented image pairs are imported into a WallView image set and are used as a 3D stereo analysis slide show. Multiple sequential image pairs can be used to allow forensic review of temporal phenomena between pairs. The observer, while wearing linear polarized glasses, is able to review image pairs in passive 3D stereo.

This work was done by Richard Brown, Science Systems and Applications, Inc., Andrew Navard of Computer Sciences Corp., and Joseph Spruce of Science Systems and Applications, Inc. for Stennis Space Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to the Intellectual Property Manager at Stennis Space Center (228) 688-1929. SSC-00331

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2010 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.