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Algorithm for Detecting a Bright Spot in an ImageAn algorithm processes the pixel intensities of a digitized image to detect and locate a circular bright spot, the approximate size of which is known in advance. The algorithm is used to find images of the Sun in cameras aboard the Mars Exploration Rovers. (The images are used in estimating orientations of the Rovers relative to the direction to the Sun.) The algorithm can also be adapted to tracking of circular shaped bright targets in other diverse applications. The first step in the algorithm is to calculate a dark-current ramp a correction necessitated by the scheme that governs the readout of pixel charges in the charge-coupled-device camera in the original Mars Exploration Rover application. In this scheme, the fraction of each frame period during which dark current is accumulated in a given pixel (and, hence, the dark-current contribution to the pixel image-intensity reading) is proportional to the pixel row number. For the purpose of the algorithm, the dark-current contribution to the intensity reading from each pixel is assumed to equal the average of intensity readings from all pixels in the same row, and the factor of proportionality is estimated on the basis of this assumption. Then the product of the row number and the factor of proportionality is subtracted from the reading from each pixel to obtain a dark-current-corrected intensity reading. The next step in the algorithm is to determine the best location, within the overall image, for a window of N N pixels (where N is an odd number) large enough to contain the bright spot of interest plus a small margin. (In the original application, the overall image contains 1,024 by 1,024 pixels, the image of the Sun is about 22 pixels in diameter, and N is chosen to be 29.)
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Other - NASA Tech Brief
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
August 1, 2009
Publication Information
Publication: NASA Tech Briefs, August 2009
Subject Category
Technology Utilization And Surface Transportation
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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