Advanced Long-Range Video Capabilities Using Speckle Imaging Techniques
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.
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