White Papers

Flight Test Instrumentation Imaging Fundamentals

February 09, 2021 | BY: Russell Moore, Stephen Willis

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Technology, Lighting, and Environment All Affect Image Quality

High-definition and high-speed images and video are essential for many flight test, space, and monitoring applications:

  • Store separation videos that are part of airborne flight test scenarios
  • Performance monitoring of store separation and missile launches
  • Space launcher separation
  • Payload deployments
  • Ground-based missile and range testing

However, aerospace environments are some of the most challenging settings to capture the required images. Aircraft and rockets experience high vibrations, especially on take-off. Temperatures range from the extreme heat generated by engines to the extreme cold that results from thin air in the upper atmosphere. And lighting conditions can change rapidly and dramatically as airborne vehicles change their heading and altitude.

The physics of optics has been studied for hundreds of years and the lessons learned still apply to today’s cameras

The physics of optics has been studied for hundreds of years and the lessons learned
still apply to today’s cameras

For crisp, clear results, the right imaging equipment must be set up in the right location, in the right way. There are many factors that influence what “right” means in each application scenario, including:

  • Whether images must be captured from the outside or the inside of the airborne vehicle
  • The characteristics and capabilities of the lens and camera being used and whether they provide the functionality needed for the application
  • Whether the lens and camera are rugged enough to operate at their peak capabilities in the environmental conditions where they will be used
  • Where camera equipment is positioned with respect to the sun and other light sources
  • How exposure time affects image quality in different light situations

To make the optimal decisions for each FTI imaging application, everyone responsible for acquiring imaging technologies and setting up the equipment must understand basic optics, camera functionality, and lighting concepts as well as the relationships among them. This white paper presents an overview of these concepts to help flight test engineers make informed decisions.

Russell Moore

Author’s Biography

Russell Moore

Product Line Manager - Recorders, Switches and Cameras, Aerospace Instrumentation, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions.

Russell Moore is the Director, Advanced Imaging and Video Products at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Aerospace Instruments Division. Russ has worked in many industries in his 34-year career in electronics, software engineering, business development and product management. Graduating from Rutgers University with a BS in Physics and graduate classes in Electronics Engineering, Russ started his career at DuPont Corp. in Chemicals/Manufacturing Controls and Materials Research then to Xerox Corp. (DXI Corp.) and TA Instruments in Product Design in first 11 years. Next, Russ worked for Sarnoff Corp., Sensar Corp. and Iridian Technology pioneering iris biometrics products followed by Securimetrics (Iris/Face/Fingerprint Biometrics) as CTO and the last 12 years with Curtiss-Wright (formally Teletronics). He currently manages camera and high-speed network switch and recorders product portfolios.

Author’s Biography

Stephen Willis

Marketing Portfolio Manager

Stephen Willis works for Curtiss-Wright in the role of Marketing Portfolio Manager. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering, a Masters in Philosophy for research in mathematical models and their market application for risk assessment and a PG Dip in marketing and management. His current research interests include data acquisition, recording and control systems and their applications in enabling a cost effective route to gathering large amounts of data. In particular, applications of interest include flight test, crash protected recording and structural/ usage monitoring programs. He is the author of several of academic papers and magazine articles.

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