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System for determining the attitude of a moving imaging sensor platform or the like

Image Number 8 for United States Patent #4802757.

A system for determining the attitude of an airborne platform such as a terrain image sensor includes a digital image correlator for comparing successive overlapping, instantaneous images of the terrain which are recorded by a second, two-dimensional image sensor whose image plane is oriented parallel to that of the terrain image sensor. The second sensor generates an instantaneous master image and a subsequent slave image which at least partially overlaps the master image in terms of the terrain which is viewed. The master and slave images are approximately registered and a correlation is performed. A plurality of points on the slave image are correlated with the corresponding terrain points on the master image. The correlation is performed by selecting a plurality of spatially distributed patches of pixel arrays which are mathematically superimposed on and are moved about the slave image to determine the locations where the maximum of gray scale correlation occurs. These correlation points on the slave image are recorded and the coplanarity condition of photogrammetry determines the relative orientation of the slave with respect to the master. The relative orientation of the slave image with respect to the master image characterizes the attitude change of the platform. The technique also reveals changes in altitude and velocity of the platform when mean altitude and velocity are known. The image produced by the terrain image sensor can be altered on a real time basis using the information relating to the changes in platform attitude, or the master and slave image data can be recorded for subsequent use in modifying the image data recorded by the terrain image sensor.

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