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Image Processing for Astronomy (Inactive)


The universe is very large and our understanding of it is very small. Scientists rely on observations made usually from great distances to see what is happening in other parts of the solar system or the universe. This can lead to greater general knowledge as well as occasionally to knowledge of our own planet.

Projects at BSU

The projects that involved the Signal Processing Laboratory at BSU include:

Rapid Reaction Telescope (RRT) for Detection and Analysis of Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB)

(Barney Smith, Gardner, Macomb, Smith)

This project was funded by grants from NASA-EPSCoR and the NASA Idaho Space Grants Consortium (ISGC). This project involved several professors from multiple disciplines and multiple universities.

The central idea is to implement a very rapid reaction mount and optics for detection of fast celestial transients, especially gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Research to accomplish this will consist of selection or design of the following major items:

  • IR sensors
  • telescope mounts
  • a control algorithm for the telescope mount
  • algorithms for processing the image to remove any distortions from the lens, for GRB detection and tracking.
    During all of this, the
  • interconnection of subsystems and
  • communications between subsystems and with the GRB notification network will need to be configured.
    Then at the end
  • analysis of the data by astrophysicists will follow.

We currently have a telescope fork designed that is in the process of being fabricated. This will soon be connected up to the control protocols we have developed and the theoretical accelerations will be compared with the measured ones. We are using state of the art direct drive/hydraulic motors for moving the telescope mount.

This coming summer we will connect to the GRB Coordinates Network and develop interface software to receive the notifications and start the motion sequence in the telescope mount.

A survey of the literature of star detection and tracking methods will be conducted. A preliminary design of the whole system interconnections will be made. This will give us a good overview of the system needs and enough information to determine what will be involved in fully designing and building such a RRT. These system specs will be used to apply for further follow-on funding to actually do the system design and build the telescope.

GRB Image Processing

Image processing will be implemented for image enhancement or correction, verification of telescope position, and transient detection. Image enhancement or correction may include motion compensation or removal of lens distortion. Current work is being done on verification of telescope position. This involves comparing the telescope-acquired image against a portion of the star catalog which is larger, but coincident with, the acquired image. Development of this method may include image scaling, rotation, and matching. Once the acquired image has been processed appropriately and telescope position confirmed, it will be compared with the star catalog to determine the presence of a GRB.

See also the BSU RRT webpage.