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Advancing the Surveillance Capabilities of the Air Force's Large-Aperature Telescopes

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Final rept. 1 Mar 2009-30 Nov 2013

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Effective space situational awareness SSA requires horizon-to-horizon surveillance of the sky, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In practice, the amount of sky over which high-resolution images of space objects can be obtained using the Air Forces large aperture telescopes is limited to regions where the combination of adaptive optics AO compensation and numerical image restoration have good performance. For current AO systems and image processing techniques this is achieved for benign to moderate turbulence conditions. Improving the synergy between the data acquisition and processing steps, and leveraging the information on the temporal behavior of the atmosphere that is encoded in the AO wave front sensor data, extends the range of good performance. The proposed approach captures images using a range of aperture sizes and then uses a bootstrap restoration process that starts with the smallest aperture data. This technique provides a trajectory through the parameter hyperspace in the restoration that is less susceptible to entrapment in local minima than is encountered with the traditional approach of restoring single aperture data. Implementing the proposed approach has the potential to more than double the spatial and temporal coverage of the sky a significant advance for SSA.

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  • Military Intelligence
  • Optical Detection and Detectors

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