Space Image Processing in America

The invention of space imaging opened up doors for the United States that they hadn’t known even existed. Through the invention of this process, images of the moon, planets of our solar system, as well as new galaxies beyond our own have all been found over the course of about 50 years. Though the imaging process has been improved upon greatly and has even influenced other programs more remote to the earth, the very beginning stages of space image processing were Through NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or JPL, scientists like Robert Nathan, Frederick Billingsley, and Roger Brandt all contributed to the initial actual creation of space imaging, though the concept was really brought to light in 1946 by Lyman Spitzer.

At first, the idea of space imaging was not considered to be an individual accomplishment, but instead was introduced as a mere accessory to the Ranger and Surveyor space missions.

With the help of Robert Nathan, the JPL was able to add space imaging to these programs, though they wouldn’t be a major asset to the space program as a whole until the public became intrigued by it and NASA saw its true potential for space exploration.

During the Ranger mission images of the moon were taken before the spacecraft landed on the surface. These photographs, taken by six different cameras on each Ranger spacecraft, allowed for slight experimentation with each of the cameras. Not only was each lense different, but the exposure and scan rates also varied between the six.

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The results aided in the further development of space imaging cameras, and ultimately the concept of sending probes out solely for the purpose of collecting photographic data.

The first Video Film Converter, or VFC, was created by Frederick Billingsley and Roger Brandt of JPL. This was necessary for the actual processing of the images captured in space, as they had to be converted into a digital form first. The process created by Billingsley and Brandt was then used for the Surveyor mission and the final acceptance of digital space imaging. Apollo’s image of earth → the Blue Marble Talk about the early stages and its first launches on the Ranger and Surveyor missions In those 50 years since the first space missions that included space imaging as just an “add-on”, the imaging processes have been expanded upon greatly. In 1999, the Ikonos satellite was launched successfully. This marked the first time high-resolution photos (1- and 4-meter resolution) would be taken of earth’s surface, opening the doors for further space imaging of other planets and galaxies with a better resolution.

This made it easier for scientists to decipher between formations and discover new formations in space. Another major landmark event was the commonly known Hubble Space Telescope’s launch into space on April the 24th, 1990—arguably the most noteworthy progression in astronomy since Galileo’s telescope. The Hubble Telescope was first sent out with an incorrectly polished main mirror, leading to the device’s initial inability to focus as perfectly as it should have. Due to this accidental polishing mishap, the first Hubble Servicing Mission was executed in the December of 1993, on which the necessary repairs were done so that the lense could perform to its predicted standards. Since then, the Hubble spacecraft continues to orbit

The technology used for the space imaging process, as well as the general idea of collecting data of our planet via global photography, have influenced new technological advances that use the same general principles. One example of these expansions is Google StreetView. With this online program, anyone with access to the internet is able to view almost anywhere in North America, South America, South Africa, Europe, and specific regions in Asia. This stems from the curiosity of the public that arose from the photos of the Earth from space probes. It allowed for more in-depth.

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Space Image Processing in America. (2022, Apr 25). Retrieved from

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