posted on Oct, 5 2009 @ 12:51 PM
Ahh, this is a project I've had in mind for a while given enough funding. You could market something like this for "watching" planes around
airports to record accidents, but trapping UFO's is more fun. I have an extensive background in machine vision for automation, so here are some
thoughts as applied to this project:
The optics will need to be designed around the level of detail you want..that will drive the lensing and image chip size. So if you want to see the
letters "USAF" on a high-flying classified air vehicle at 100,000 ft, you can calculate the size of this and about 2.5 pixels to resolve a feature
edge. But if you just want to see the outline of a craft, it requires much less resolution. The math will need to be done, but it's not
I'd recommend using something like Roborealm to monitor the video feed. This program will not only detect user-defined motion, but will figure out
center of mass and feed coordinates to your servo actuators. In fact, there are built-in modules now that are for tracking so that saves a lot of
programming. Just make sure you have a fast computer and compatible cameras.
Depending upon your intended target altitude for detection, you will need atmospheric correction software. This applies corrections to the actual
image for changes in air density. You won't be able to see much detail at higher flight levels without it. You might be able to get something
off-the-shelf from astronomy-related sources.
Given certain "patterns" in classified air vehicle sightings, it's likely that they're using optical tricks to prevent people from seeing details
during operation. This can include optical projection to hide the object, or flooding the object in light so it just appears as a fuzzy bright object
moving very fast. You would need an optical system in other light spectrums to get past these techniques, and it's possible that they've even got
something to confuse that avenue. There are probably many vehicles in operation that don't use these techniques due to size and flight requirements,
so you'll still get something without going IR or wide spectrum.
Lastly, be prepared to face government action if you can get this thing to work. They know the capabilities of cell phone cameras and what common
people have available, and are sure to operate normally outside of that range. I remember a news piece a few years ago when certain US government
officials expressed disgust with "skyfishing" for reasons of national security. If you get some high-resolution sky trap operational and start
posting photos on the internet, expect a knock at the door and to have equipment confiscated. They've put a lot of work into their "family jewels"
and are authorized to do nasty things to protect them. If you look at the list of restricted items that the US government doesn't allow shipment to
certain nations, they include things like high-resolution IR cameras. The Chinese were trying to get their hands on these about 5 years
ago...probably trying to augment their optical tracking systems just like the one you describe (radar is no longer a reliable means of tracking for
most of these vehicles).
I'd volunteer to help, but have other projects right now. Good luck, and be careful.