Physical Sciences Inc (PSI) proposes the development of a longwave infrared (LWIR) imaging spatial heterodyne spectrometer (I-SHS) for standoff detection of clear air turbulence (CAT) and wake vortices from an airborne platform. PSI will team with Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) who has produced significant research on the application of LWIR hyperspectral imaging for detection of these and other air hazards. The research has produced extensive simulations, however, the predicted spectral radiance signatures are an order of magnitude below the noise floor of state of the art in LWIR hyperspectral imagers. The proposed LWIR I-SHS will offer this order of magnitude improvement in noise equivalent spectral radiance through a combination of high throughput and minimal noise-inducing sampling errors owing to the stationary interferometer. A preliminary systems analysis predicts a per-pixel NESR of 1E-9 W/(cm^2 ster cm^-1) at 16 cm^-1 spectral resolution. In Phase I, PSI will formalize a system performance model and will produce and characterize a breadboard I-SHS which will be used to demonstrate a molecular imaging measurement as a surrogate for a wake vortex. With the support of GTRI, PSI will generate requirements and a conceptual design for a TRL 5 system to be developed in Phase II.
Potential NASA Commercial Applications: The primary NASA commercial application for the proposed system is airborne and ground based aviation hazard detection, including clear air turbulence, wake vortices, runway icing, volcanic ash, visibility, and runway obscurants.