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Wide Field-of-View Imaging System with Active Mitigation of Turbulence Effects for Tactical Applications


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate an innovative wide field-of-view (WFOV) imaging system with opto-electronic active mitigation of atmospheric turbulence effects for tactical scenarios. DESCRIPTION: In conventional atmospheric imaging techniques, mitigation of atmospheric effects is achieved using digital post-processing of an image sequence that has been recorded with a passive imaging system. Quality of the raw image sequence has significant impact on the achievable final quality of images. Recent technology advances have lead to new capabilities in optical and electronic imaging hardware development that potentially enable improvements in image quality before an image is taken. Among these capabilities are: (1) the ability to adaptively control imaging system characteristics including wavefront shape, field of view, focal length, spectral band, polarization state. Both the imaging system, which includes controllable optics and sensors, and image processing algorithms should be considered as an integrated system in which sensor/imaging system structure is dependent on the processing algorithm, and the algorithm is designed taking into account advanced optical and electronic hardware; (2) the new potential for fast"on-the-fly"image pre-processing using advanced digital micro-processing, VLSI and focal plane array hardware. The potential merger of these two capabilities requires the development of new, specifically designed image processing algorithms. It is important that these algorithms be closely linked for optimal on-the-fly control of optical system characteristics, in order to provide feedback for on-the-fly optimization of imaging system characteristics. This topic seeks the development and demonstration of new capabilities (algorithms, integrated imaging, opto-electronic architectures) for active mitigation of atmospheric turbulence effects in Wide Field-of-View (WFOV) imaging conditions. With WFOV imaging through atmospheric turbulence, dynamical phase distortions along the propagation path can result in significant image quality degradation. This image quality degradation can be spatially non-uniform, especially for so-called anisoplanatic imaging conditions when phase distortions for distant image scene regions are not correlated. These conditions are especially challenging for conventional adaptive optics and image processing techniques, and require the development of new paradigms and imaging system architectures. Offerors should develop an innovative compact, light weight imaging system (visible or IR) with active mitigation of atmospheric turbulence effects for operation over tactical distances (0.5 km 10 km). The system"s Field-of-View (FOV) should exceed 2 mrad. PHASE I: Effort may be directed toward the development of initial design of the proposed imaging system concept. Detailed algorithms for image processing and control should be in place and evaluated, using a combination of real data and high fidelity simulation, for effectiveness in turbulence mitigation efficiency under various representative FOVs and atmospheric turbulence conditions. Results should be documented. Strengths and deficiencies should be clearly identified. The preliminary design should be configured with optimized performance and ready for an opto-mechanical implementation during Phase II. PHASE II: Effort may be focused on prototype development by integrating optical and electronic components. The utility of this prototype system in turbulence mitigation effects in tactical scenarios should be demonstrated. Based on this atmospheric evaluation of the image quality, the system should be optimized through algorithm refinement and electronic processing improvements. A working system with identifiable improvements in image quality should be available by the end of Phase II. PHASE III: The prototype should be further refined toward commercialization. The offeror should work with Army scientists and engineers, along with industry partner, to identify and implement technology transition to military and civilian applications. Civilian applications include medical imaging, global environmental monitoring, and video surveillance. REFERENCES: 1. Aubailly, M., and M. A. Vorontsov,"Imaging with an array of adaptive subapertures,"Optics Letters, Vol. 33, No.1, pp.10-12, 2008. 2. Buske, I., and W. Riede,"A Mobile Adaptive Optics System for Compensation of Atmospheric Turbulence-Induced Phase Distortions,"Proc. IEEE Conf. Lasers and Electro-Optics 2009 and the European Quantum Electronics Conference. CLEO Europe - EQEC 2009, p.1. 3. Roggemann, M.C., and B.M. Welsh, Imaging Through Turbulence (CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 1996). 4. Vorontsov, M., and G. Carhart,"Anisoplanatic imaging through turbulent media: image recovery by local information fusion from a set of short-exposure images,"JOSA A Vol. 18, No 6, 1312-1324, (2001).
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