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Kodak's image sensors to inspect space shuttle ruins

Posted: 02 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:image sensors? spacecraft Discovery? camera imaging?

CCD image sensors from Kodak's Image Sensor Solutions group will scan the shuttle Discovery for damaged heat tiles.

The Kodak sensors are designed into the orbiter boom sensor system (OBSS), which will provide spacecraft images to ensure that no damage occurred during lift-off or in-flight. The system is installed into the entire shuttle fleet to examine the critical external surfaces before re-entry.

Kodak's KAI-2093 image sensor is lodged into the OBSS in-flight imaging system, attached to the end of a 50ft robotic arm and used to scan the underside of the orbiter for possible damage before landing.

The OBSS camera, created by advanced camera systems producer Adimec, uses the 1920 x 1080 interline transfer CCD imager to provide up to 30 images per second for high-definition image capture. The sensor has an electronic shuttering capability, which Kodak claimed a feature that is critical to the robustness of a camera design as it eliminates the need for a mechanical shutter.

In addition to the OBSS after the 2005 Discovery mission, the camera can be used to inspect the leading edges of the wings, nose cap and crew compartment after each lift-off and before each landing.

Kodak's CCD image sensors have been used in camera systems operated by astronauts during shuttle missions and on the International Space Station (ISS). At the same time, the image sensors power the handheld digital cameras used by astronauts to capture images from space, as well as the recently launched Earth Viewing Camera (EVC) on the ISS. Kodak said the space-based products use unmodified image sensors compared to those available for consumer use.

The EVC, installed on the ISS in February, is based on Kodak's KAI-4021 image sensor, a 4Mpixel device that has an electronic shuttering capability.

"Both the KAI-2093 and KAI-4021 sensors are interline transfer devices, which both have electronic shutters that eliminate the need for a mechanical shutter," said Michael DeLuca, marketing manager for Image Sensor Solutions, Eastman Kodak Co. "Eliminating the mechanical shutter in the design becomes relevant because it ensures that it continues working," he added.

DeLuca noted the sensors are unmodified and designed for a number of markets such as industrial, medical and scientific. The sensor used in the space shuttle is a catalog part, which is also used in other applications. Meanwhile, the sensor used in EVC may also be used in industrial and medical applications.

"The sensors made from our production line are of the same quality that may be used in the space applications," said DeLuca.

"The sensors are selected based on a combination of image quality performance features, such as resolution, dynamic range, light sensitivity and robustness, providing reproducible and reliable performance under a number of conditions," he added.

The Kodak sensors are also being used in other NASA and European Space Agency ESA missions to both Mars and Venus, including the Mars Odyssey Orbiter, Mars Express, Venus Express and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Future missions include satellites in orbit around the Moon and Jupiter.

- Gina Roos
eeProductCenter





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