RIT on TV: WiSTEE Connect

Time Warner Cable News reports on the "LEAN IN Together with WiSTEE Connect" forum at RIT, hosted by Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Entrepreneurship Connect. 

Apr. 29, 2014

WiSTEE Connect—founded and chaired by Jie Qiao, associate professor in RIT's Center for Imaging Science—promotes women's leadership in science, technology, engineering and entrepreneurship; bridges the gap between science, technology and business; and provides a forum to learn, connect and lead.

Original Source: University News

CIS alumnus and current Ph.D. student featured on WXXI Radio Show "Connections"
Innovative Freshmen Experience

Connections: A Preview of Imagine RIT

Evan Dawson chats with those involved with Imagine RIT festival about what attendees can expect when they visit the festival on Saturday

Apr. 30, 2014
Evan Dawson


Imagine RIT will draw thousands of people this Saturday, May 3, to the one-day innovation festival. So what are the innovations on display? We chat with Barry Culhane, chairman and founder of Imagine RIT and Heather Cottone, chair of programs for Imagine RIT.

We then talk with the following innovators who will present their works at the festival:

Sean Cooper, a student presenting a Motion Picture Science Holodeck

Colin Axel, a student presenting the Vehicle Hazard Detection and Alert System

Brendan Gordon, a student presenting Imagine Soap


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Original Source: WXXI News

STEM Dilemma: US is not producing enough talent despite high demand
Remote Sensing

Please note this correction to the following article: The CIS high school internship program is unpaid and is 6 weeks long.

May. 1, 2014
Melanie D.G. Kaplan

Ask a leader in the field of geospatial sciences about the inspiration that long ago catapulted him or her down a certain career path, and you’re likely to hear about one pivotal moment.

For the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) InnoVision Director Doug McGovern, it was the race to the moon.

“That was a huge catalyst for my interest in science and technology,” he said.

But McGovern and his peers are quick to admit they face a rocky road in preparing today’s young people for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)—and that academic curricula needs to reflect the quickly changing and expanding needs of employers.

But it starts with getting students excited about learning and raising awareness about the many opportunities in geospatial science.

“How do we inspire that same passion in people today?” McGovern asked.

This was among the questions raised at a panel briefing on Capitol Hill in December, where representatives from the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), NGA, industry, and academia gathered to discuss the lack of a strong STEM pipeline and what it means for the nation’s geospatial workforce of the future.

“The demand is tremendous,” said Michael Richardson, a researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Carlson Center for Imaging Science (CIS). “In the past decade, we have achieved 100 percent placement for our graduates.”

Currently, the graduate program has approximately 100 students, but RIT’s goal is to double enrollment in the next few years. CIS offers a paid, 12-week internship for high school juniors, which exposes them to imaging science and acts as a recruitment tool for the undergraduate program. But even with such outreach, finding qualified students is challenging.

According to the National Science and Technology Council, demand for professionals in STEM fields is projected to outpace the supply of trained workers. A 2012 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology estimates U.S. industries will be about one million STEM graduates short within the next decade.

USGIF CEO Keith Masback said furthermore, national security jobs aren’t easily filled with young, international talent, as is the case with many other industries.

“There are unique challenges when it comes to national security, and you can’t outsource it,” he said. “That, by definition, limits the scope even further.”

Roadblocks to growing the STEM pool include real and perceived obstacles.

“Starting with elementary school, STEM are perceived to be difficult topics,” said Peggy Agouris, acting dean of George Mason University’s College of Science and a USGIF board member. “But also, these are cumulative fields. So if there is a gap in knowledge, it’s hard to catch up later on.”

The U.S. population as a whole is unfamiliar with the range of jobs in geospatial sciences, even though they drive applications we use daily – from Foursquare to Google Maps. This is a problem when it’s time for parents and teachers to guide students. For those who have heard of the field, Agouris said, shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” where an awkward physicist meets a pretty girl, don’t help matters, Agouris said.

“You may laugh, but it’s true, and it’s done significant damage to recruiting in the STEM field,” Agouris said. “I’ve heard qualified kids say they don’t want to go to a strong STEM school because it’s for geeks.”

Young professionals agree K-12 exposure is imperative, and are becoming more involved with raising awareness. Sam Unger, a member of USGIF’s Young Professionals Group (YPG) who works at TASC, led an effort last year to help seniors at a Northern Virginia high school with GIS projects. This year, the mentoring initiative is expanding to more schools.

“Kids get really excited when they not only understand the application, but when they get things that they use on a daily basis,” Unger said.

There are countless ways to capture students’ imaginations and get them fired up about STEM.

“For any of these kids, it’s a trip to an air show, a NASA facility, or a movie that inspired them, and that was enough to say, ‘I think I want to do this,’” Masback said. “But without a concerted, collaborative effort among academia, industry, and the government, there won’t be an infrastructure to educate and train them with the knowledge and skills to follow that dream. It takes a village.”

To learn more about the YPG, contact Carrie Drake at carrie.drake@usgif.org.

Related articles: 

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Original Source: Trajectory Magazine

Engineering students build and install camera rig for Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

Senior design project becomes part of museum’s equipment for imaging permanent exhibits

May. 19, 2014
Michelle Cometa


RIT engineering students worked with staff at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to install a portable camera rig they designed and built this past year. They worked with Susan Farnand from RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and Barbara Bridgers, general manager for imaging at the museum, on design specifications for the custom rig.

It became much more than a senior design project when the engineering students set foot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In October, when on an initial trip to collect information for the project, most had never been to the museum, let alone New York before. On Thursday, May 15, after several months of work, their custom-made camera rig became a part of the museum’s operations and imaging efforts.

Seven students from the Kate Gleason College of Engineering delivered and installed a Vertical X-Y Camera Rig they designed and built for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They had worked over the past academic year with Susan Farnand, assistant researcher in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, to upgrade a stationary, ceiling-mounted camera rig in the museum’s imaging studio used to take high-resolution images of artwork. But the museum also had other works of art that needed to be imaged, and having a mobile unit to photograph these larger, permanent installations was necessary.

Farnand originally worked with Barbara Bridgers, general manager for imaging at the museum, on previous color reproduction projects. Being both an engineer and imaging researcher, Farnand was familiar with the imaging needed at the museum as well as the capabilities of the engineering college, particularly its multidisciplinary senior design program, where students are required to complete design projects over an academic year using engineering and product design methodologies.

She proposed the Metropolitan Museum project, and the students started work this past fall. Thursday, they saw their work onsite and ready to be used.

The students had traveled for the first time to New York City in October to meet with the museum representatives and developed the design requirements for the portable imaging equipment rig.

“I thought having the team actually see the works of art the museum staff was going to image would be really helpful,” she said. “It was really exciting for the guys because there was one who had never been to New York before. They saw the city and the museum and what goes on behind the scenes.”

Working closely with the museum staff, particularly Bridgers and Scott Geffert ’84 (photographic illustration), the senior imaging systems manager, they designed a custom camera rig.

“The students met with the museum’s engineering staff on Thursday morning to review the construction, operation and safety features of the rig. Other departments have collaborative relationships with students in colleges and universities,” said Bridgers. “This, however, is the first time the Photographic Studio collaborated with a group of students to solve an imaging issue.

“Working with the students was great,” she continued. “They were serious, grasped the problem we were trying to solve, listened carefully to our requirements and took those issues and concerns even further. They understood the implementation in the museum could not be taken lightly and undertook their work with seriousness of purpose.”

The museum is known for its extensive collections of artwork, including tapestries and textiles from around the world. Having the portable imaging rig allows the group to take photographs in the galleries, and decreases the need to move delicate materials.

The overall system was designed around a winch-driven material lift, said Sam Brown, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student. It can be raised 22 feet, a few feet beyond the required 18 feet the museum requested. It also includes a customizable rail system that the main structure will move along, extending up to 29 feet. The mechanical systems—the horizontal and vertical traverse structures, the rails and camera mounts— as well as the electrical systems consisting of several motors and Arduino microprocessors—were all built and assembled at RIT.

“We lived in the machine shop,” said Zack Sostack, a fifth-year mechanical engineering student.

The system is capable of doing precise position measurements that include the pan and tilt function for the camera base, and it can run automatically or manually.

“This rig allows them to wheel it to the artwork, to hoist up the lighting, for the rig to go up and down, back and forth across the artwork,” Brown explained. Structural mounts will be able to hold more than 200 pounds of equipment and rigging on a base that weighs more than 300 pounds.

“It is elegant in its simplicity,” said Farnand. “They worked really hard and I’m impressed with the whole team, and the senior design program in general. It’s a great experience for the students. They get the opportunity to work with real customers and build things that these customers are actually going to use.”

The camera rig will be tested throughout the summer by the studio and engineering staff at the museum. Bridgers expects the camera rig to be used to photograph one of the museum’s exhibits of eighteenth-century rooms from English homes called the Croome Court tapestry room. It was part of a country estate in Worchestershire, England designed by Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728-1792). It featured elaborate tapestries on the walls that extend from floor to ceiling.

“The room is the art,” said Brandon Strangman, a fifth-year industrial and systems engineering student. “This is where the need for our project came in.”

Bridgers agreed. “Every surface area has to be photographed precisely, and the images have to be high enough detail to see the thread count. That’s what we are trying to do with this type of work.”

Between designing and building the rig, displaying it at the recent Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival, preparing for their formal senior design presentation about the project and disassembling the rig to get it to New York, the team members had little time to reflect on the experience.

“We’ve been thinking throughout the semester more along the lines of we have to finish this,” said Strangman. “We haven’t had time to stop and smell the roses. But, it’s cool to think that something we’ve done is going to be used in the museum.”

The team members are: Brandon Strangman (industrial and systems engineering, Shortsville, N.Y.), Samuel Brown (mechanical wngineering, Dryden, N.Y.), Zachary Sostack (mechanical engineering, Cooperstown, N.Y.), Kyle Bradstreet (mechanical engineering, Webster, N.Y.), Daniel Kearney (electrical engineering, Baldwinsville, N.Y.), Daniel Jang (electrical engineering, Queens, N.Y.) and Matthew Misiaszek (mechanical engineering, Stockbridge, N.Y.).

A video of the camera rig is available, produced by Matthew Misiaszek.

Related article:


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Original Source: University News

RIT offers career-development workshop on imaging science July 14–24

Full federal scholarships available

Jun. 6, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz

Career scientists and engineers as well as students seeking a better understanding of imaging science and technology will gain a comprehensive overview of the imaging process during a two-week intensive course offered by Rochester Institute of Technology’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

“Foundations of Imaging Science” will run from July 14 through 24 on the RIT campus. The short course will introduce as many as 20 participants to aspects of the imaging chain, including radiometry, color science, geometric optics, sensors, image processing, image display, the human visual system and image evaluation. Hands-on learning through laboratory exercises will reinforce the topics covered.

The Obama administration, on May 28, named Rochester and the Finger Lakes region as one of the first 12 designated manufacturing communities in the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership program. The designation will channel economic development funds to the area to strengthen regional manufacturing in optics, photonics and imaging with an eye toward global competition.

“As a member of the Center for Imaging Science, I’m excited about Rochester’s designation as a ‘manufacturing community’ in optics, photonics and imaging,” said Susan Farnand, assistant scientist at RIT. “I believe that the courses offered through Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences, including our Foundations of Imaging Science course, will help prepare people to take advantage of the opportunities that the IMCP program will generate.”

Full scholarships for the course are available through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. To apply for funding, go towww.ceis.rochester.edu/funding/courses/index.html.

For more information, contact Susan Farnand at farnand@cis.rit.edu.

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Original Source: University News

Florida Tech-Led Team Awarded Grant to Test Camera on International Space Station
Astronomy and Space Science
Detector Research

A proposal from Florida Institute of Technology to test a special camera on the International Space Station was selected for funding by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS).

Jun. 24, 2014

The test, to be undertaken next year, involves building an extreme contrast ratio camera into an 8-inch long box that will be installed in a cabinet with other research projects. The cabinet will then be placed outside the space station for 90 days while researchers run their tests, which will include monitoring how the space environment affects aspects of the camera's highly specialized sensor.

The project is led by Daniel Batcheldor, associate professor of physics and space science at Florida Tech.Joining Batcheldor are Sam Durrance, professor of physics and space science at Florida Tech, and Zoran Ninkov, professor of imaging science at Rochester Institute of Technology.

“This is a very exciting project because we expect it to lead to discoveries in both remote sensing of the Earth from orbit and for many fundamental areas of space-based astronomy,” Batcheldor said.

Future commercial use of the camera’s sensor could serve a range of purposes, from astronomy initiatives to Earth observation enterprises, including environmental monitoring and defense interests.

“CASIS congratulates Dr. Batcheldor and Florida Tech on their proposal to utilize the NanoRacks External Platform in their efforts to improve existing charge-coupled device technology,” said CASIS Director of Portfolio Management Warren Bates. “The ISS is a unique testbed capable of yielding results not possible on Earth, and we look forward to working with the university as their researchers attempt to develop new sensors from the distinctive vantage point of the station to ultimately improve life on our planet.”

Once contracts between Florida Tech and CASIS have been finalized, a 2015 launch to the ISS is likely. In the meantime, the team will work with engineers at camera supplier ThermoFisher Scientific Inc., to ensure the payload meets the power consumption, volume, mass and other requirements necessary to operate an investigation onboard the ISS.

This project began in 2012 when Batcheldor was awarded a small research grant from the American Astronomical Society to buy and test an extreme contrast ratio camera on Florida Tech’s 32-inch telescope. These ground tests were successful, and Batcheldor and his team are now going to “flight qualify” this type of camera on the ISS so that it can be used on future remote-sensing and space-based observatory missions.

This work continues Florida Tech's heritage of developing cutting-edge, high-impact technology and partnering with the space industry, noted Hamid Rassoul, dean of the university’s College of Science.

“Combining the knowledge and strength of our experiences, Drs. Batcheldor and Durrance have taken up the challenge to develop an innovative, efficient, extreme-contrast camera to advance the architecture of the next generation of high-sensitivity instruments for astrophysical and remote sensing research,” Rassoul said.

The extreme contrast ratios the camera is equipped to handle are those where the brightness ratio between a bright and faint object is 1 billion, something akin to trying to spot a candle next to a lighthouse. Being able to record such images is important in making observations of planets around other stars and for a range of remote sensing applications.

In addition to project leader Batcheldor, Durrance, an astronaut who spent 26 days in space over two shuttle missions, brings extensive experience with designing, building and operating space-based instrumentation. He also has an interest in the observations of planets around other stars. RIT’s Ninkov has been responsible for designing and testing much of the camera electronics in a laboratory environment.

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Original Source: Florida Institute of Technology

Hubble Telescope Spots an Intergalactic String of Pearls
Astronomy and Space Science

No jeweler on the planet can beat the string of pearls spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope: The merger of two elliptical galaxies has created a "necklace" of infant stars stretching for 100,000 light-years.

Image: Merging galaxy clusters


Jul. 10, 2014
Alan Boyle

Everything about this picture is big: The stellar string would stretch from one end of our Milky Way galaxy to the other, between two galaxies that are both three times wider than our own. The galaxies are contained in a cluster known as SDSS J1531+3414, a formation that's so massive its gravitation field bends the images of background galaxies into bluish arcs.

When the images were acquired, astronomers assumed the chain of stars was merely an illusion created by the galaxy cluster's gravitational lens. But follow-up observations using the Nordic Optical Telescope in the Canary Islands ruled out that hypothesis.

"We were surprised to find this stunning morphology, which must be very short-lived," Grant Tremblay of the European Southern Observatory said in a news release from the Space Telescope Science Institute. "We've long known that the 'beads on a string' phenomenon is seen in the arms of spiral galaxies and in tidal bridges between interacting galaxies. However, this particular supercluster arrangement has never been seen before in giant merging elliptical galaxies."

Tremblay compared the phenomenon to "two monsters playing tug-of-war with a necklace."

The latest findings are in a paper due for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters — and you can find out more from the Rochester Institute of Technology as well as the European Space Agency's Hubble site.

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Original Source: NBC News

First digital camera on display at Eastman House
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

When Steve Sasson made the first digital camera in 1975, he never dreamed it would end up on display at the George Eastman House.

Nov. 23, 2014
Bennett J. Loudon

"I just never thought about the significance of it, to be honest with you, until the press started asking me lots of question in the early 2000s," Sasson said.

Sasson took part in a panel discussion Saturday at the George Eastman House about the effect digital photographic technology has had.

Despite the enormous impact his invention has had on modern life, Sasson remains startled by the celebrity it has bestowed.

"The camera represents to me a personal memory and a critical decision point in my career. From a broader perspective, I never expected people to be this interested in the prototype. I never really thought about it being historically that interesting. It motivated me, but I never thought about it in historical terms," said Sasson, who lives in Hilton.

Over the years, the mailbox-sized camera has been shown with Sasson in news interviews and documentaries, but it was never before put on public display. The public can see it until Jan. 4 at George Eastman House as part of the exhibit titled, "Innovation in the Imaging Capital."

Roger Easton, a professor of imaging science at Rochester Institute of Technology, who visited the George Eastman House Saturday to see the camera in person and hear Sasson talk, called the invention "a revolution."

"In my line of work, I use them all the time. I take digital images of historical documents, manuscripts," said Easton, who took a picture of the Sasson camera with his own, modern Kodak digital camera.

"Right now I'm working on a 1490 map of the world. That technology is what allows us to pull writings out that people haven't been able to read for hundreds of years," Easton said.

Sasson travels extensively, giving talks about the camera, innovation and inventing.

"I'm embarrassed to say that, but yeah, people do come up to me and want their picture taken with me all the time, which is fine," he said.

A few years ago, Sasson started getting letters from people all over the country asking for his picture and autograph.

"I collect them in a book. My book is getting pretty full. They're kind of moving stories," he said.

The camera was the result of a research project assigned to Sasson in 1975 when he worked at Eastman Kodak Co.

He retired from Kodak in 2012 and now has his own consulting firm.

"Nobody really told me to build a camera. They asked me to look at the imaging properties of this new type of imager called the charge-coupled device," Sasson said.

"I was just sort of the right person at the right place at the right time," he said, explaining that he was fresh out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a master's degree in electrical engineering degree.

"I liked to build things. As a kid I built all kinds of radios and transmitters at my house in Brooklyn. I used to scavenge parts from old TV sets people used to leave on the sidewalk," he said.

He didn't get much direction for what he described as a low-key project conducted without much funding or resources.

"I thought, if I'm going to measure the imaging properties of a device, it would be nice if I could capture images at will. That sort of sounds like a camera. And then I thought, wouldn't it be really cool to build an all-electronic camera, no moving parts at all," he said.

The pictures taken by the first camera weren't very good, but it demonstrated a concept. Back then, he guessed it would be 15 to 20 years before it would be perfected. He was off by about 10 years, and by that time the Kodak patent had expired.



If you go

The first digital camera, made by Sasson in 1975 when he worked at Eastman Kodak Co., will be on display as part of the Innovation in the Imaging Capital exhibit, which runs through Jan. 4.

For hours, admission and other details, visit: EastmanHouse.org.

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Original Source: Democrat & Chronicle

CIS Undergraduate Research Sparks Prestigious Professorship in Astronomy
Astronomy and Space Science
Student Stories

Dec. 14, 2011
Amy Mednick

A poster book of huge, colorful photographs of the giant planets taken by the Voyager 2 spacecraft captivated Sally Dodson-Robinson as a child in Los Angeles. “I thought it was really cool. All these pictures of planets and moons,” she says. “I always liked astronomy when I was a child, but I didn’t know how you would go about having a career in astronomy.”

She toyed with photography and always enjoyed science, but everything fell into place as a junior at the Center for Imaging Science. That year and the following year, Dodson-Robinson carried out a research project on binary stars with then-CIS Professor Elliot Horch. This close contact with a working astronomer motivated her to pursue astronomy as a career.

Dodson-Robinson, now 31, received a Bachelor of Science degree from CIS in May 2002, graduating summa cum laude as the College of Science Student Delegate. She also accepted the College of Science Outstanding Scholar Award. She is in the midst of her third year as assistant professor of astrophysics at the University of Texas, Austin.

The access to such stimulating research projects at CIS, Dodson-Robinson says, directly led to her current, highly coveted, position. With Horch, Dodson-Robinson observed stars using the fine guidance sensors on the Hubble Space Telescope with the goal of finding binary, or double, stars. “The project was ongoing and when I started, we were in the very first phases of it. I think that first batch included about 12 stars. I enjoyed discovering things. I wanted to keep discovering and building knowledge.”

With the eventual goal of attending graduate school in astrophysics, Dodson-Robinson took a year off to teach English in Japan.  In 2003, she started doctoral work at University of California, Santa Cruz. She received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship between 2003 and 2006, which funded the bulk of her graduate career.

Almost immediately, as a result of a successful master’s level class project, she began working with Professor Greg Laughlin, who studies planetary astrophysics. While it included an analysis of observational data, Dodson-Robinson’s doctoral thesis took a more theoretical direction than her undergraduate work. She investigated the chemistry of planet formation and, specifically, how the composition of gas and dust determines planets’ growth. The boundary between observations and theory did not faze her. “If I get interested in a question, I will use any method I can to answer the question. I’m not particular about the method,” she says.

As Dodson-Robinson put the finishing touches on her dissertation in 2008, the University of Texas offered her a faculty position. At the time, she had already accepted a Spitzer Space Telescope post-doctoral position at the NASA Exoplanet Science Insitute at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and so she deferred her UT offer until 2009-10.

At UT, Dodson-Robinson focuses on planet formation and planet archeology, but she has extended her research to include planet-forming accretion disks around stars. Analytical theory and numerical simulations of the dynamical and chemical environment of planet growth allows her to uncover the formation histories of exoplanets and Solar System objects.  Using spectroscopy, she also chemically analyzes stars and their orbiting dust, reading the fossil record of planet growth. In addition, analyses of infrared observations enable her to see the composition of dust grains that make up planets.

Dodson-Robinson’s collaborations are mainly rooted in her doctoral and post-doctoral work. She works extensively with two JPL researchers, Karen Willacy and Neil Turner, as well as with her “grand advisor” from UCSC, Professor Emeritus Peter Bodenheimer. Harkening back to her initial astronomical inspiration as a child, this year Dodson-Robinson obtained a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study the formation of giant planets.

While Dodson-Robinson, a Southern California native, does not miss the cold weather of Rochester, she looks fondly on her years at CIS and appreciates that all the students are encouraged to get involved in research. “I think that was one of the most valuable things for me, since I have a career in research now,” she says.

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CIS Alumnus Takes on Instrumental Role in Next Landsat Satellite
Remote Sensing
Student Stories

Matthew Montanaro—a Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science doctoral alumnus—has played a key role in the development of a state-of-the-art infrared imager aboard the newest Landsat mission scheduled for launch in February. 

Jan. 24, 2013
Amy Mednick

Collaborating with a team of scientists and engineers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Montanaro is applying his knowledge of remote sensing theory and imaging methods to the Landsat Data Continuity Mission. Landsat 8 is the most advanced of eight remote sensing satellite missions designed to collect images of the Earth from space for land use research.

After completing his doctorate in May 2009, Montanaro joined Goddard in September 2009.  His work focuses on a specialized camera called the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS), which is designed to detect changes in temperature on the earth’s surface. The TIRS camera takes images in infrared wavelengths, which are beyond the visible range. Each image arrives in the form of raw numbers, representing intensities across the image, and Montanaro calibrates those numbers to produce an image of the Earth’s temperature variations. “My job is to figure out algorithms and connect the data to meaningful temperatures that scientists can use in their research,” Montanaro says. “When you are done, you have a temperature map of the earth’s surface.”

Practically speaking, this new sensor will help farmers, scientists, and enforcement agencies track water management in the Midwest, for example, in times of draught. “If you fly over the Midwest and look out the window, you see these huge circles that are irrigation fields,” Montanaro explains. “If you think of heat, you’re spraying a lot of water [on the field] and when that water evaporates, it cools the surface. Our instrument is designed to detect that change in temperature. You would be able to see temperature differences between these fields.”

The TIRS team has worked on an accelerated schedule to be ready for the February 2013 launch date of Landsat 8, which is equipped with an optical camera as well as TIRS. NASA launched the first satellite in the Landsat series in 1972; a new mission is put in orbit every five to 10 years, and each version becomes more sophisticated in its instrumentation. 

Engineers built the new TIRS instrument at Goddard and shipped it to Orbital Sciences Corporation in Gilbert, Arizona last February where engineers installed both TIRS and the mission’s visible-light camera aboard the satellite. During the late summer and fall, Montanaro made numerous trips to Gilbert to assist in observatory level testing. In these tests, TIRS took images simulating the satellite in orbit, and Montanaro checked the data to ensure their reliability. The satellite has been shipped to the launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where it will be mounted on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, according to the NASA website.  After launch, the team will spend 90 days taking test images and ensuring the reliability of the data and then the U.S. Geological Survey takes over the operation of collecting the data.

Montanaro says his training in the Carlson Center for Imaging Science at RIT, where he studied thermal remote sensing theory and imaging methods with Professor Carl Salvaggio, prepared him well for his job duties at NASA. 

“Matt's research leading to his doctoral degree was to look at the interactions of optical radiation in a complex, cavernous target, and predict what a remote sensing system would observe,” Salvaggio says. “Matt developed an in-depth understanding of the way thermal infrared energy interacts with targets, the atmosphere, and the sensor, which prepared him in a very solid way for his current work at NASA producing the next generation of infrared sensing systems.”

While at RIT Montanaro focused exclusively on the science side of remote sensing, whereas TIRS has also required him to comprehend the engineering end of camera design. “You see [the work] from a different perspective here. You see everything that has to go into building something like this and then launching it,” Montanaro says. “You get to see the inner workings of stuff that the public doesn’t normally get to see. And, hopefully, in February, it will actually launch and then something we worked on will be orbiting the earth.”


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