Panasonic 3D Camera (3DA1 Camcorder) - 12.06.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
The Panasonic 3D Camera (3DA1 Camcorder) can record three-dimensional high-definition video onto secure digital memory cards, like the type used in many consumer cameras. The camera experiment compares the quality of file-based camcorders as opposed to videotape recorders, and examines how well the camera’s sensors perform in space. The video also provides a unique virtual view of the International Space Station in 3-D.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Rodney Grubbs, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: 3DA1 Camcorder

Principal Investigator(s)
Rodney Grubbs, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States

Information Pending

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2011 - September 2014; March 2015 - September 2015

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
The Pansonic 3D Camera was flown to the ISS on STS-135 and returned to Earth on SpaceX CSR-1.

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • The Panasonic 3D Camera (3DA1 Camcorder) camera provides performance data with a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensor to compare with that of previous charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras, and real-world experience with a file-based work flow. The 3D HD video also provides the public a more realistic representation of life on the International Space Station.
  • Historically HDTV cameras with charge-coupled device (CCD) imaging sensors are susceptible to radiation damage, resulting in damaged pixels noticeable as white dots (i.e., image errors) in the picture. Additionally, cameras that record on video tape require an encoder and must be streamed to get the video to the ground. It is these differences that are being explored in this investigation by using CMOS based camera hardware. The benefits from the data collected in this investigation could prove that CMOS sensors last longer than CCD sensors and therefore impact future implementations of HDTV cameras internally and externally on the International Space Station (ISS).
  • The first camera was returned on SpaceX CSR-1 and analyzed.  This second camera will validate the data and performance of the first flown camera.  The associated file-based work flow could also replace live streaming tape based systems.

The camera is an all-in-one 3D HDTV camera. It records discreet video for the left eye view and the right eye view. Each time the camera record button is pressed it records a specific file for that recording on SD cards, one each for the left eye view and the right eye view. Both files must be available to provide a 3D HDTV output with ground support equipment. Beyond the uniqueness of providing 3D views of the ISS with HDTV quality, the camera provides an opportunity to gather space flight performance data from the camera's CMOS sensors. HDTV cameras flown previously have had CCD imaging sensors that proved to be highly susceptible to ionizing radiation damage. Observing the frequency and decay rate of the CMOS sensor allows the determination of whether a CMOS based camera provides a more robust spaceflight imaging system vs. CCD based cameras. The 3DA1 also provides operational experience with video as files versus real-time streaming or tape based systems. Previous cameras flown required the return of video tapes to the ground, or a real-time streaming video capability to play back and stream files from the camera.

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Space Applications
The experiment compares the Panasonic camera’s metal-oxide semiconductor (MOS) sensor to other charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras. These are two different ways to turn light into an electric charge, which converts visual images into digital information. CCD sensors are common, but they are highly susceptible to damage from radiation in space. The experiment tests how well MOS sensors withstand that radiation. 3D could also prove useful for external video imaging applications such as proximity operations and docking.  File based workflows allow more flexibility for managing motion imagery and eliminates the need for bringing tapes back to Earth, thus lowering costs and increasing efficiency.

Earth Applications
High-definition video in 3-D provides a realistic representation of life on the International Space Station, which could be used for public outreach programs.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

Various subjects can be filmed on an adhoc basis over weeks and months in order to provide opportunities to observe sensor decay rates and gain experience with file based workflows. Periodic, brief recordings with the lens cap placed over the lens provide a more accurate count of damaged pixels.

Setting the camera's "convergence" is very important in the use of this camera system; otherwise, the operation of the camera is very similar to other video cameras with regard to setting exposure, focus, and recording.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites

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JSC2011E061257 - 3DA1 Camcorder

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