Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Imaging in Space

Space shuttles and Mars missions require performance, sensitivity and ruggedness
Astronaut Garrett Reisman
Astronaut Garrett Reisman, STS-124 mission specialist, looks over a checklist while holding a camera in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station while Space Shuttle Discovery is docked with the station. The astronaut is holding a Kodak DCS camera.
The Daily weather data for Mars is collected by the orbiter using the Mars Color Imager
The Daily weather data for Mars is collected by the orbiter using the Mars Color Imager (MARCI). The data includes phenomena like dust devils, as seen in this image taken earlier this year.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
© NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) is designed to obtain grayscale (black & white) images of Mars at 6 meters per pixel scale over a swath 30 kilometers wide.
terra sirenum crater on Mars
© NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems
The largest numbers of gullies on Mars are on the walls of southern hemisphere craters. During southern winter, many of the gullied walls are in shadow. It has been known for many years from Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera images that frost forms on these shadowed slopes and that differences in the amount or nature of the frost deposits highlight the gully floors and deposits. CTX acquired this image of the terra sirenum crater where gullies were known to display frost during winter.
50-foot robotic arm
© Adimec
An Adimec camera and Kodak sensors are key components of the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS), an in-flight imaging system attached to the end of a 50-foot robotic arm that is used by shuttle astronauts to scan the underside of the orbiter for possible damage before landing. 

By Barry Hochfelder

"When working with high-speed capture, you want to do that without moving parts and allow the sensor to capture all of the image at one time, so you don't have to use a rolling shutter that will capture artifacts," DeLuca explains. "That's why an interline CCD with electronic shutter works well. We're still trying to work that out with a CMOS rolling shutter."

Cameras also are used on the shuttle for space walks and when working in a vacuum, with some modifications for the conditions. These also are used inside the shuttle for pictures taken on the shuttle and in the space station. There is a whole library of pictures of earth, more than 130,000 images that can be searched by location.

Kodak CCDs also are routinely used in other camera systems operated by astronauts during shuttle missions and on the International Space Station, including the handheld digital cameras used by astronauts to capture images from space and the recently launched Earth Viewing Camera.

Surprisingly, these space-based products all use image sensors that are unmodified from those available from Kodak for use on earth.

"I think from Kodak's perspective the really important point is that all of the applications are commercial-grade sensors," DeLuca says. "They're all just catalog parts. Different integrators have taken them and put them into space. It speaks to the quality and robustness of the devices people use every day."

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