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The Ladybug3 spherical digital camera system from Point Grey Research (Richmond, B.C., Canada) was used to capture images of the 56th Inaugural Parade on Jan. 20.
NASA was invited to have its Lunar Electric Rover participate in the parade following the swearing-in ceremonies for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden. The rover, a concept vehicle about the size of a pickup truck that astronauts will use for future exploration of the moon, was equipped with a Ladybug3 to capture 360-degree digital video footage of the parade and Presidential Review Stand.
"We were honored when NASA approached us looking for a way to capture panoramic images of this historic event," says Vladimir Tucakov, Director of Sales and Marketing at Point Grey Research. "Working with the talented team of NASA engineers was also a privilege. They were familiar with our Ladybug3 and had some very specific requirements, such as the ability to generate panoramic video, select individual panoramic images from the video stream, and save specific still photos from each of the camera's six image sensors. They also needed to get the system up and running very quickly, so we were happy to provide them with one of our development hardware and software accessory kits."
The Ladybug3 camera was mounted at the top of a mast on the rover and connected by a 10-meter IEEE 1394b (FireWire) cable to a Dell Precision M90 Intel Core2 Duo laptop, which was equipped with a FireWire ExpressCard. Using the Ladybug SDK, NASA was able to control the camera, acquire full 12 MP images (2 MP from each of the six sensors) at 15 FPS for approximately 10 minutes, store the footage to a video stream file, then post-process the data into panoramic AVI's and still images.
"The goal of recording the parade with a panoramic camera mounted on the rover was to provide people with a truly unique perspective of this significant event," says Michael Gibbons, Product Manager at Point Grey. "The end result was 10 minutes of panoramic footage from the parade, which NASA has made available on its YouTube channel to people all over the world."
The high-resolution Ladybug3 spherical digital video camera system has six 2 MP cameras that enable the system to collect video from more than 80 percent of the full sphere, and an IEEE 1394b interface with locking screw connection that allows JPEG-compressed 12 MP resolution images to be streamed to disk at 15 FPS. The Ladybug3 is an ideal solution for applications that require very high resolution, a weather-resistant case, direct FireWire connection, and the ability to synchronize to external devices such as an external trigger or light source.