Electro-optical Systems for Aerospace Sensing Applications


This course will provide an introduction to electro-optical systems and EO systems applications for practicing aerospace engineers. It is oriented towards non-specialists in electro-optics, such as systems engineers, specialists in related disciplines (such as computer/software, electrical, and mission planning), as well as other who must integrate and interact with EO payloads. It will cover basic EO design principles, methods for predicting and assessing performance, and current topical applications for airborne, ground-based, and space-based EO systems.

Key Topics:

  • Introduction to EO and optical systems concepts
  • Performance metrics and design rules-of-thumb
  • Sensors and image processing for EO systems
  • Ground-sensing EO technologies and applications
  • Air- and space-based EO technologies and applications
  • Aerospace sensor networks

Who Should Attend:

Systems Engineers, Program Managers, Payload Specialists, Mission Planners, and Subsystem design engineers who must work with and interface to EO systems will benefit from this course. The course assumes that attendees will have a basic undergraduate degree in a technical field but does not require specialization in any optics-related field. Professionals with some background in optics or optical physics who are looking for a broad overview of EO systems and their applications will also benefit.

Course Information:

Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Intermediate
Course Length: 2 days
AIAA CEU's available: Yes



I. Intro to Electro-optics. Basic review of optics, image formation, signals, and radiometry; Optical systems concepts. Types of optical systems, rules of thumb for developing and comparing optical systems. Overview of detector systems

II. Environmental influences on EO systems. Effects of the atmosphere and airborne vehicles. Sources of radiation. Image quality and resolution 

III. Image processing for EO systems. Overview of image operations; image processing tools; file and data formats; compression and transmission over data networks

IV. The Need for Ground Sensing in the Modern Battlespace; Evolution of Modern Conflict; Operations Ground Sensing Operational Context; Six Operational Domains

V. Ground Sensing Technologies; Technical Aspects of Current Ground Sensing Systems Hard Problems Confronting the Use of Ground Sensors; Gaps in Current Combat Force; Gaps in Future Combat Force

VI. Providing Improved Ground Sensing Capabilities; Integrating Solutions; Technology Strategy; Emerging Technology Enablers

VII. Benefits of Space-based Remote Sensing: weather satellites, commercial remote sensors, DoD systems, intelligence systems

VIII. History of Space-based Remote Sensing: Pre-orbital studies and systems –Weather imagers and sounders –Spy satellites –Land and ocean color imagers –Space tracking and surveillance systems –Planetary exploration and astronomical systems

IX. System Figures of Merit for imaging and remote sensing: SNR, noise equivalent or minimum detectable signals, sensitivity, NIIRS, algorithm noise

X. Remote sensing of the atmosphere: physical effects of the atmosphere on imaging and remote sensing at visible and infrared wavelengths

XI. Future of Space-based Remote Sensing: Responsive space systems -- Impact of emerging information technology on future imaging and remote sensing systems -- Imaging spectrometers -- Active systems

XII. Concepts and Applications of Unmanned Aerospace Sensor networks




Timothy L. Howard is Chief Scientist of EOSESS, LLC, a professional consulting firm specializing in Electro-optical Systems Design and Engineering, and an adjunct faculty member in Physics and Astronomy at the University of New Mexico. He is an internationally recognized expert in all aspects of airborne and space EO systems including applications for imaging, pointing and tracking, remote sensing, and astronomical missions. Mr. Howard is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA and a Fellow of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in Physics, holds two U.S. patents, and has published over 20 technical and conference papers as well as a number of non-technical and semi-technical articles.

Dr. Jeff Puschell is Principal Engineering Fellow and Technical Director for Raytheon’s Space Systems business area in El Segundo, California. He is an internationally recognized expert in the system engineering of space-based imaging and remote sensing systems. He has >31 years of experience in developing advanced technology infrared and visible wavelength systems for a variety of operational and research applications. His experience includes major contributions toward development of visible-infrared instruments for space-based operational environmental imaging, development and field testing of laser-based communication and remote sensing systems. Dr. Puschell is co-author of Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD (SME-SMAD), the field's leading textbook.

Clay Carson is a Senior Principal Engineering Fellow for Raytheon Network Centric Systems in McKinney, Texas. He has over 25 years of experience in technical leadership, program leadership, and problem solving. Clay is the technical director of Combat Systems which develops and produces Soldier systems, active protections systems, battlefield sensors, vehicle electronics, and fire control systems. Clay received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Kansas State University. He also received a MBA in Business Management from the University of Dallas. He currently serves on the National Military Sensing Symposium Executive Committee, the Sensor Systems Technical committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and the Passive Sensors program committee for the Military Sensing Symposium (MSS).



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