NASA SBIR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 A4.02-8060
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Flight Test Techniques and Measurement Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: Advanced Long-Range Video Capabilities Using Speckle Imaging Techniques

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
EM Photonics
51 East Main Street
Newark, DE 19711 - 4685
(302) 456-9003

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Fernando Ortiz
51 East Main Street
Newark, DE 19711 - 4685
(302) 456-9003

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Flight-testing is a crucial component in NASA's mission to research and develop of new aeronautical concepts, allowing for verification of simulated and wind-tunnel results, and exposing previously unforeseen design problems. Video is an invaluable tool for flight-testing, allowing the collection of a wealth of information; however, collected long-range imagery typically suffers from scintillation, blurring, poor spatial resolution and low contrast.

For decades, astronomers have developed effective image processing solutions to the problem of imaging through long stretches of atmosphere. One such image processing technique, Bispectrum Averaging Speckle Imaging, has been proven to compensate for heavy atmospheric effects at both visible and IR wavelengths. The computational requirements, however, made field deployment of a real time solution difficult.

In 2007, we accelerated the Speckle algorithm for NASA using a Field Programmable Gate Array. This work demonstrated that the real-time implementation of a complex algorithm such as this one is possible with a hardware platform. Although this implementation could improve imagery under many scenarios, large power requirements due to hardware use limited the scenarios in which the platform could be deployed. Lastly, this work does not contain many of the enhancements that we, in partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Labs have made to the software algorithm since that date.

We propose to evolve the previous hardware design by taking advantage of the improvements to manufacturing that have come to industry over the past 3 years. By coupling newer, less-expensive hardware with enhancements and simplifications to the Speckle algorithm, we will also be able to offer a solution that is significantly lower cost and lower power. A new design will vastly increase the capability and feasibility of deployed atmospheric correcting technologies, which will in turn benefit NASA by making flight-testing more safe.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NASA collects massive amounts of long-range imagery, whether for range safety pre-launch, tracking objects after launch, or observing objects in space. All these applications require imaging through the atmosphere at great distances. This causes all the imagery collected to be blurred and often detail is lost.

By viewing enhanced imagery, NASA officials will have access to additional information for a variety of key decisions. During launch, added level of detail provides the ability to make more informed "go" or "no go" decisions. When tracking rockets or the shuttle, enhanced imagery allows for more detail on pieces that may fall from the craft during flight. Accounting for atmospheric effects will also improve the quality of all imagery taken of space-based objects from Earth.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Non-NASA commercial applications can be broadly divided into government applications and private-sector applications

Government applications include use of this technology in high-precision laser designator/locators, which require a handheld device for enhancing long-range images to allow for location and designation of targets from great distance; long-range cameras for border monitoring, as the US southern border is very difficult to monitor without significant manpower and consists of potentially difficult terrain and climate; and airborne laser applications, which use a telescope to acquire and track targets and can be significantly limited by atmospheric turbulence.

Private-sector application will involve coupling our solver into existing camera and processing hardware. In many cases, this will simply involve complying with pre-defined interfaces to attach the necessary components. Success in these markets will depend on cooperation with camera vendors and makers of image processing systems, not end users. The advantage will be that manufactures will then be able to directly integrate our technology into their product lines, significantly reducing NRE cost by volume. We see this approach being particularly valuable in applications that have strict power and size requirements and for systems that will be portable either on the ground, in the air, or in space.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Adaptive Optics
Circuits (including ICs; for specific applications, see e.g., Communications, Networking & Signal Transport; Control & Monitoring, Sensors)
Image Processing
Telescope Arrays

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:43