26 August 2008 Pixon sub-diffraction space imaging
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Space imaging has many uses, including military intelligence, commercial map making, and natural resource management. The desire for higher resolution and its natural limit due to diffraction has increasingly pushed up the size and expense of space platforms. An alternative to larger telescopes is to use advanced image reconstruction and modern small pixel detectors to build extremely compact satellites that can produce sub-diffraction resolution images. Because of the Pixon® method's use of minimum complexity image modeling, it is especially good at recovering spatial frequencies beyond the diffraction cutoff. This is because the simplest model that fits the spatial frequencies present in the image, i.e., those below the diffraction cutoff, must necessarily contain correct spatial frequencies beyond the diffraction cutoff. In our work with the Pixon method we have routinely obtained images with 1/4 diffraction resolution for well sampled data (~4 pixels per diffraction FWHM) with good signal-to-noise ratio (~a few hundred per resolution element). With such capabilities a 3.0 meter focal length, 0.8 meter diameter telescope, launched with a Pegasus missile would have an effective 0.1 meter ground sampling distance, i.e., NIIRS 9 performance, from a 400 km orbit (675 nm operating wavelength). We present a number of examples demonstrating the practical capabilities of the Pixon method for achieving these goals.
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R. C. Puetter, R. C. Puetter, R. G. Hier, R. G. Hier, } "Pixon sub-diffraction space imaging", Proc. SPIE 7094, Unconventional Imaging IV, 709405 (26 August 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.794055; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.794055

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