|The Pioneer 10 spacecraft at Jupiter|
Multi-sensors embedded platforms in aerospace applications include Multi-Axis Gimbals, Gyro-Stabilized Platforms, Opto-Mechanical Design for EO/IR Sensors, Shock and Vibration Isolation Systems, Compound Sensors for Search and Rescue missions, and Geo-Mapping.
Research projects within the Center include:
Active Imaging Systems
Recent progress in active imaging adds a new sensing capability to standard electro-optical systems used in airborne applications. Active imaging systems provide their own illumination, and enable target interrogation in the absence of ambient light. This capability is complementary to both thermal imagers and passive image intensifier systems. To deliver useful imagery, thermal imagers require a degree thermal contrast. Passive image intensifiers cannot provide sufficient contrast under very low light conditions such as during overcast nights or in degraded visibility conditions (rain, fog or snow). In the absence of thermal contrast and in very low-light level conditions, active imaging systems tend to be more effective.
Small Forces Modeling
Spacecraft used in gravitational experiments, as well as spacecraft in global positioning systems, must have their trajectories modeled with high precision. In addition to the effects of gravity, small nongravitational forces of on-board origin must also be represented accurately in orbital calculations. The presence and magnitude of these forces depend on the spacecraft configuration. While these forces cannot be easily predicted from first principles alone, it is possible to model them using engineering telemetry obtained from a combination of sensors on board the spacecraft. A combination of sensors, including sensors measuring temperature, electrical system performance, fuel tanks and propulsion can be integrated into a model that is used to predict small forces due to anisotropic thermal emissions, propellant outgassing, or other on-board events. This approach was used successfully in the reconstruction of the orbits of the Pioneer 10 and 11 deep space craft, which exhibited an acceleration anomaly that was ultimately traced back to such small forces.