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JPL is currently developing the multi-angle spectro-polarimetric imager (MSPI), targeted for the Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystems (ACE) mission, as defined in the National Academies 2007 Decadal Survey. In preparation for the space instrument, the MSPI team has built two incremental camera systems (Ground- and Air-MSPI) to improve understanding of the proposed architecture. Ground-MSPI is a gimballed instrument used primarily for stationary observation and characterization of the imager and optics. The ER-2 based Air-MSPI operates in a step-and-stare mode, providing multi-angle imaging of a static target. This mode-of-operation simulates the observation scenario of the space instrument. Physically, MSPI is a pushbroom camera with a specialized frontend. Before imaging, light entering the camera passes through a pair of photoelastic modulators and a set of pattern polarizers. These optical elements act on the light to make polarimetric extraction computationally feasible. Calculating polarimetric parameters from the imager's data stream requires a real-time least-squares computation that produces coefficients of a truncated time-series expansion of the image. As reported in, the data processing algorithm can operate in real-time on a Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA. Moving beyond verification with an onboard data source, the algorithm has been validated on a commercial development board interfaced with the ground camera. In addition, the algorithm has been instantiated within the Air-MSPI electronics board's FPGA, and in situ first-light has been achieved.
Aerospace Conference, 2011 IEEE
Date of Conference: 5-12 March 2011