NASA Technology Helps Investigators In Florida Abduction Case
Michael Braukus |
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
February 5, 2004
Two NASA facilities, the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Ala., and the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla., provided technological assistance for law enforcement agencies investigating the abduction of an 11-year-old girl in Sarasota, Fla.
Both NASA centers have unique capabilities to enhance video. MSFC uses a software program called Video Image Stabilization and Registration System (VISAR), and KSC has a new image-analysis facility.
VISAR was created by MSFC employees, Dr. David Hathaway, a solar physicist, and Paul Meyer, an atmospheric scientist, to aid their space-program research. VISAR's first law enforcement investigation was in 1996, when it helped the FBI analyze video of the bombing at the Olympic Summer Games in Atlanta. Since then Hathaway and Meyer have worked on dozens of criminal cases with police and the FBI.
VISAR works by turning dark jittery images, captured by home video, security systems and video cameras in police cars, into clearer stable images that can reveal clues for investigators. It does what other image-stabilization processes cannot: correct for changes in orientation and size. The system was used during the Space Shuttle Columbia accident investigation.
Kennedy's new Image Analysis Facility uses an advanced SGI® TP9500 data-management system to review videotape or film. This $3.2 million system was installed in preparation for Return to Flight of the Space Shuttle fleet. The system allows NASA engineers to perform preliminary video analysis within hours of a Shuttle launch and provide detailed film analysis the day after launch. NASA, United Space Alliance, and Silicon Graphics, Inc. teamed to create one of the world's highest-performing visual analysis systems.
With the new system, NASA's Ice/Debris Team can inspect the Space Shuttle before launch, analyzing full-frame, real-time, standard-definition and high-definition video at 1280x720 pixels and can analyze 16 mm and 35 mm film data at 4096x3112 pixels. The system was designed to process 150,000 frames of film and 300,000 frames of video within two weeks of a launch.
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