Tech

May 8, 2013

NAWCAD scientists forge new path for underwater optics

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division engineer Dr. Linda Mullen demonstrates a laser used in underwater optics at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., March 6. Mullen patented a new encoding method for laser imaging, which offers possibilities for both fleet and commercial use.

Scientists from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division) recently brought to light a new approach for underwater optics that could enhance fleet activities, such as detecting underwater mines and seafloor mapping.

NAWCAD engineers Linda Mullen and Alan Laux invented a method to encode a laser with a radar signal to improve the performance of underwater imaging systems in murky water.

We program the laser with information about how the laser is scanning the object,î Mullen said of the project, which was developed two years ago and patented in February. Therefore, the light reflecting off the object and the surrounding environment contains all the information needed to accurately create an image.

A typical underwater laser imaging system has the transmitter and receiver on the same platform. Mullen and Laux tailored their imaging system by placing the transmitter and receiver on separate platforms. The remote receiver wirelessly collects the radar-encoded laser light from the transmitter and translates the information, while an image processor turns the digitized signal into an image.

“It’s a new way of thinking about things, Mullen said. ìIn acoustics and radar, theyíve been doing these kinds of approaches for a long time. This is very new for optics.

Their method allows for better image quality and larger operating ranges than traditional underwater optical imaging systems. With the separate platform approach, the receiver can potentially be airborne, shipboard or on another underwater stand ó a first for optics imaging. It also makes it possible to use a smaller platform, which allows the light source to get closer to the object in question without stirring up as much sediment.

Less sediment means better visibility, an important factor in activities such as minesweeping, which depends on the ability to detect mines without inadvertently triggering them.

Commercial uses for the technology exist as well. During one recent test, Maryland law enforcement officials expressed interest in using the technology to help with search and recovery efforts. Underwater laser imaging has the advantage of approaching objects from a single direction and has fewer limitations in shallow water than traditional sonar.

There are scenarios when you have to start thinking out of the box,î Mullen said. Otherwise, you are going to be limited. You wonít be able to get to see what you want to see.

NAWCAD is actively pursuing industry partners to assist in the commercialization of this technology. Call the NAWCAD Technology Transfer Office at (301) 342-1133 to discuss opportunities to collaborate or license the technology.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
University of Rhode Island photograph by Tom Glennon

NASA kicks off field campaign to probe ocean ecology, carbon cycle

University of Rhode Island photograph by Tom Glennon The Research Vessel Endeavor is the floating laboratory that scientists will use for the ocean-going portion of the SABOR field campaign this summer. NASA embarks this week o...
 
 
NASA photograph by Carla Thomas

NASA’s high-flying laser altimeter to check out summer sea ice, more

NASA photograph by Carla Thomas This summer, the Multiple Altimeter Beam Experimental Lidar, or MABEL, will fly above Alaska and the Arctic Ocean on one of NASA’s ER-2 high-altitude aircraft. Sea ice in summer looks dramatica...
 
 
SOFIA

Outer space to inner space: SOFIA inside Lufthansa Technik hangar

NASA photograph by Jeff Doughty NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy is shown inside the Lufthansa Technik hangar in Hamburg, Germany where it is beginning its decadal inspection. Flight, aircraft maint...
 

 
NASA photograph by Tony Landis

New life for an old bird: NASA’s F-15B test bed gets new engines

NASA photograph NASA’s F-15B flight research test bed carries shuttle thermal insulation panels on its underbelly during a research flight in 2005. NASA Armstrong’s F-15B aeronautics research test bed, a workhorse at th...
 
 
NASA photograph by Tom Tschida

Towed glider benefits from center’s new 3-D printer capability

NASA photograph by Tom Tschida The major components of NASA Armstrong’s new high-resolution 3-D additive manufacturing printer occupy a shelf in the center’s subscale aircraft research lab. Robert “Red” ...
 
 
NASA photograph by Emmett Given

NASA completes testing on 3-D printer

NASA photograph by Emmett Given United Space Alliance engineer Cynthia Azzarita, left, and Boeing Company engineer Chen Deng, members of the Human Factors Integration Team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, conduct a “...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>