Our work will be broadly applicable to any group that collects long-range imagery for monitoring, scientific study, or surveillance applications. At NASA, this includes groups that track flight tests and rocket launches as well as those looking from ground-based cameras to observe astronomical phenomena. The primary application of this technology is to the flight test and tracking work done at Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC). These tools will provide further enhancement of videos collected there allowing for observation of additional detail in the subjects imaged. It will also include software to automate the current image enhancement system, reducing the burden on the operator of interacting with it and thus freeing them up to focus on their other responsibilities during flight tests. The image enhancement tools developed here can be used in two ways during rocket launches. First, since observation cameras must be placed far from the launch pads, our technology can assist in range clearance to allow for observation of additional details on vehicles prior to launch. Second, they will provide additional detail on rockets as they fly to provide more information to ground crew. Additionally, the software we develop can also be used in the study of objects in space from ground cameras. We can mitigate the atmospheric effects given a clear picture of objects of interest.
The technology developed in this project will have applications at other federal government agencies as well as in the private sector. From a federal government perspective, these tools can be used to monitor secure facilities including sensitive government buildings and nuclear stockpiles. Our technology can reveal additional details on the subjects being monitored. They can increase the effective range of cameras placed at the border. Customs and Border Patrol has shown an interest in this technology for helping catch drug traffickers. Local government and regulatory agencies may also be interested in in monitoring wildlife around power-generation facilities including solar farms and land and sea-based wind turbines, primarily for their effects on local bird and other animal habitats. Within private industry, we have had discussions with camera vendors that would like to incorporate this technology directly into their hardware platforms once the algorithms have reached a sufficient state as to not require operator interaction. They are interested in the potential to automate the image enhancement techniques. We have also been approached by video production companies about using our tools in their processing pipeline. While some have used it successfully, they have expressed an interest in further automation of the tools. We see this as a group that could help sustain this work once this project is complete.