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Software Captures Images of Ice Crystals in Clouds
Aug 2002
LOUISVILLE, Colo., Aug. 14 -- Boulder Imaging Inc., an image capture, processing and machine-vision software company, and SPEC Inc., a designer of scientific instruments for research aircraft, participated last month in CRYSTAL-FACE, a government-sponsored scientific mission to measure how cloud characteristics alter the atmosphere's temperature and affect global warming.

Boulder Imaging developed the real-time processing system and the post-processing software for SPEC Inc.'s cloud particle imager (CPI), an instrument that takes high-resolution digital images of cloud particles and which flew on NASA's WB-57 platform during the first week in July. The WB-57 platform is one of several high-altitude aircraft used in this multi-agency mission. Seven NASA centers and universities, including the University of Colorado at Boulder, participated.

SPEC's cloud particle imager includes a high-speed camera that takes very fast pictures of the particles inside a cloud as a plane flies through it. Boulder Imaging's AcquireNow software processes high-speed video of ice crystals captured by the imager.

AcquireNow is programmed with complex algorithms that detect the edges of ice particles, information which is then used to determine what is a particle and what isn't. Statistical information is generated, tracking particle size and distribution over time. From this data, researchers study the microscopic factors that influence cloud physics and how these affect climate.

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