From: Aerospace Corporation
Posted: Monday, December 9, 2019
Scientists from The Aerospace CorporationInternational Space Station (ISS) to The smear-free images at night. Motion compensation from a fast-moving, low Earth orbiting platform can be difficult, but NIRAC’s custom optical system enables imaging at a spatial resolution of 80 meters, even as the ISS travels more than 10 kilometers during the camera’s 1.5-second image exposure time.
NIRAC’s Earth surface imagery covers a 160-kilometer-wide field of view every 10 seconds, producing detailed pictures of terrain features, city lights, clouds, roads, and lakes. Long exposure times enabled by its motion-compensation system further enhance NIRAC’s imaging capabilities over that of current polar-orbiting satellites.
using airglow as a natural flashlight for illumination and experimenting with an
NIRAC employs a state-of-the-art focal plane array, similar to the one being flown on the James Webb Space Telescope, which provides the sensitivity needed to take full advantage of the novel optical system.
Aerospace scientists are already using these images to observe weather systems at night and explore potential applications related to disaster monitoring for fires, floods, and winter storms. Observations from NIRAC are enhancing scientists’ understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere near the edge of space, including the effects of atmospheric processes on space weather.
About The Aerospace Corporation
The Aerospace Corporation is a national nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center and has approximately 4,000 employees. With major locations in El Segundo, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and the Washington, D.C., region, Aerospace addresses complex problems across the space enterprise and other areas of national significance through agility, innovation, and objective technical leadership. For more information, visit
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