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Near the Ocean Surface Imaging through Atmospheric Turbulence


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Sensors, Electronics, Battlespace 

OBJECTIVE: Develop an algorithm to remove atmospheric-caused blur and contrast reduction caused by atmospheric scattering. 

DESCRIPTION: Naval imaging presents unique challenges to imaging systems operating near the ocean surface. Some of these challenges include systems operating near the ocean surface that experience atmospheric turbulence from differing effects such as large-scale shear, buoyancy, and the proximity to the water surface significantly affect interactions among scales in atmospheric boundary layer turbulent flows that do not occur in the upper atmosphere. The imaging system algorithms may have limited or no ability to in-situ profile the atmosphere, and any algorithm to correct for turbulence must operate in near real-time. There has been substantial effort in aerial or space-based turbulence reduction in imaging, but far less effort near the ocean surface. Atmospheric turbulence causes a reduction both in effective system resolving power and in contrast, resolution, and these effects are not compensated. Existing efforts—both commercial and military—focus on every part of the atmosphere except near the ocean imaging. To improve system performance, the Navy requires innovative approaches to reducing the impact of the atmosphere by reduction of blur due to atmospheric effects, and reduction of the loss of contrast between target and background due to atmospheric scatter. The Navy would like reduction to the maximum extent possible, and prospective vendors should propose what is achievable. Algorithm development can be supported by basic weather data such as temperature and humidity but not by atmospheric profilers. In addition, the algorithm must operate in near real-time. Candidate standard definition and high definition imaging systems include visible light, short wave infrared and thermal infrared systems. For the purposes of this research, processing of high-definition video within 150msec on a central processing unit (CPU)- or graphics processing unit (GPU)-based system will be sufficient. The algorithm will be transitioned to the submarine combat system via the technical insertion – advanced processor build (TI-APB) process. The Phase II effort will likely require secure access, and NAVSEA will process the DD254 to support the contractor for personnel and facility certification for secure access. The Phase I effort will not require access to classified information. If need be, data of the same level of complexity as secured data will be provided to support Phase I work. Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. Owned and Operated with no Foreign Influence as defined by DOD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this contract as set forth by DSS and NAVSEA in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advance phases of this contract. 

PHASE I: Develop a concept for an algorithm or series of algorithms to reduce the effect of atmospheric turbulence as discussed in the topic description. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concept via analysis or data collected with cameras provided by the vendor. The Phase I Option, if awarded, will include the initial capabilities description to build a prototype in Phase II. Develop a Phase II plan. 

PHASE II: Develop and deliver a prototype algorithm or series of algorithms for performance testing and evaluation based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II Statement of Work (SOW). These algorithms must run in real time and demonstrate reduction of turbulence in accordance with the vendor’s proposal. The algorithms will be tested with data provided by the Government. Prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology for Navy and potential commercial use. It is probable that the work under this effort will be classified under Phase II (see Description section for details). 

PHASE III: Support the Navy in transitioning the technology to Navy use via the TI-APB process. The final product from Phase III will be integrated into existing imaging systems; the company will support the transition by providing code to the integrator and offering technical and test support. The technology should have application to any military and non-military ship-based imaging systems. The technology can be used by commercial industries for port security and navigation. 


1: Frederickson, Paul A. "Measurements and modeling of optical turbulence in a maritime environment." Naval Postgraduate School Thesis, 2006.

2:  Paskyabi, Mostafa. "Ocean near-surface boundary layer: processes and turbulence measurements." University of Bergen, 2010.

KEYWORDS: Submarine Imaging; Naval Imaging; Turbulence At The Ocean Surface; Contrast Enhancement; Blur Removal; Blur Reduction 


Jose Barbosa 

(401) 832-7032 

Eric Rabe 

(401) 832-8037 

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