Laser imaging system inspects Shuttle in orbit

In addition to cameras mounted on the ground, NASA will conduct detailed in-orbit surface inspections of the space shuttle Discovery using their Orbiter Boom and Sensor System (OBSS), a 50-foot-long robotic arm extension that houses a laser dynamic range imager (LDRI), a laser camera system (LCS), and an intensified television camera (ITVC).

WASHINGTON, DC - In addition to cameras mounted on the ground, NASA will conduct detailed in-orbit surface inspections of the space shuttle Discovery using their Orbiter Boom and Sensor System (OBSS), a 50-foot-long robotic arm extension that houses a laser dynamic range imager (LDRI), a laser camera system (LCS), and an intensified television camera (ITVC).

The Shuttle astronaut crew will inspect the leading edges of Discovery’s wing and its nose cone using a series of automated and manual robotic maneuvers for the OBSS. The LDRI, manufactured by Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) provides either two- or three-dimensional (3-D) infrared images of the shuttle surface, while the ITVC provides low-light black and white video images.

For close-up imaging of tiny anomalies such as cracks and chips on the tiles of the shuttle, the LCS, manufactured by Neptec (Ottawa, ON, Canada; see OER, July 15, 2005, p. 2), can be used as a 3-D camera or for the generation of computer models of scanned images that are accurate to a few millimeters at a distance of up to 10 m. With a maximum scan rate of 4 m/min, the inspection will take about 7 hours to complete.

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