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Space-Based Computational Imaging System

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8649-20-C-0332
Agency Tracking Number: F19A-015-0183
Amount: $749,991.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: AF19A-T015
Solicitation Number: 19.A
Solicitation Year: 2019
Award Year: 2020
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-09-28
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-12-28
Small Business Information
304 S Rockford Dr
Tempe, AZ 85281-0000
United States
DUNS: 078602532
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Esen Salcin
 (480) 494-5618
Business Contact
 Esko Mikkola
Phone: (480) 494-5618
Research Institution
 Arizona State University
 Suren Jayasuriya
660 S Mill Ave Suite 312
Tempe, AZ 85281-3670
United States

 (480) 727-9672
 Nonprofit College or University

New advances in onboard processing hardware, coupled with novel image sensor and camera design, have enabled the Air Force to consider the revolutionary benefits of computational imaging systems for space. Of particular interest to the Air Force are computational imaging systems that combine both optical and computational elements in ways that have the potential to outperform traditional (all-optical) imaging systems.   In Phase I, Alphacore Inc. has developed a radiation-hard camera system that uses computational imaging algorithms for the detection and tracking of very fast-moving objects. Co-designed using advanced image sensor features and computational elements, our design has features such as image capture at high spatial resolutions and frame rate, on-board DSP and object detection algorithms that capture and track fast-moving objects and make decisions in near-real time. The sensor and camera electronics are radiation-hardened to function and survive in harsh environments such as low earth orbit. These features are highly desirable for future intelligence and surveillance missions, as well as complex modern warfare and defense environments. By the end of Phase II, Alphacore’s prototype camera system will have computational capabilities beyond the de-blurring and tracking algorithms developed during Phase I. The system will also be optimized to allow end-users to implement their own algorithms onto this unique imaging platform, thus expanding the capabilities and possible applications of the solution.   The starting point of the system is Alphacore’s “Alpha 10k” in-house developed, radiation-hardened, high-speed, CMOS image sensor and full camera. This camera boasts a 10,000 fps continuous (raw) video rate and it has an on-chip digital control block that allows for real-time user configuration of sensor parameters such as integration time, gain, and windowing. Alphacore leveraged their existing sensor to design a visible image sensor architecture that has custom features to facilitate object tracking, coded exposure, and dynamic ROI.  Alphacore’s visible sensor architecture was designed to be easily adapted to become a SWIR ROIC that offers the same advanced features for computational imaging. The sensors are combined with a Phase I prototype camera system which uses an advanced FPGA/processor core with rad-hard COTS supporting circuitry; the result is a custom rad-hard computational imaging camera system optimized to meet the Air Force’s needs for missile defense and space debris monitoring. 

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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