Michael Braukus Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1979

)

May 4, 1999

Ed Medal Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL (Phone: 256/544-0034) Lynn Jenner Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (Phone: 301/286-0045) Doug Johnson Department of Justice, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/307-0703) RELEASE: 99-54 NASA WORKING TO IMPROVE CRIME-SCENE TECHNOLOGIES Watch out, America's most wanted. NASA scientists are developing promising new software technologies and instruments to help law enforcement agencies catch criminals by improving the analysis of crime-scene evidence. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL, has demonstrated software that enhances and improves dark, blurry videotape -- technology used by law enforcement to study video of the bombing at the1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. And NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, is working with the National Institute of Justice to develop remote crime-scene analysis. Goddard and the National Institute of Justice will study how remote-sensing technology -- used to study everything from crops on Earth to galaxies millions of light-years away -- might allow investigators in a central location to study a distant crime scene. Criminologists may be able to identify everything from fingerprints to gunpowder residue without disturbing a crime scene, preserving the chain of evidence while saving time and money. In the Goddard study, a group of forensic scientists and lawenforcement specialists will use instruments from NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft to scan a crime scene. The

data can then be transferred to a remote location, allowing crime experts to study a crime scene from anywhere in the world. "This centralized type of crime scene examination could also be of great importance to smaller cities and regions that do not have the monetary resources for high-tech equipment and personnel," said Institute Director Jeremy Travis. "The central monitoring area would provide expertise to an entire region of the country, not just larger cities." The NASA partnership with the National Institute of Justice "can have a major impact on the criminal justice system," said Dr. Jacob Trombka, a scientist in Goddard's Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics. While scientists at Goddard develop remote crime-scene technology, their colleagues at Marshall Space Flight Center have taken software -- used by NASA to improve video for shuttle launches and weather images -- and applied it to dark, nighttime video used by police. When applied to video of the bombing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the software clarified handheld camcorder video, revealing important details that had been obscured. The NASA video software "has the potential to stabilize images so that criminals and other important clues can be identified, even in blurred images," said Dr. Arsev H. Eraslan, chief scientist of both the NASA National Technology Transfer Center and the Office of Law Enforcement Technology and Commercialization, Wheeling, WV. NASA's video stabilization system has many advantages over other systems being studied because it does more than just remove static from videos. "It's like a video eraser," said Marshall's Dr. David Hathaway, one of the technology's inventors. "It removes defects due to image jitter, image rotation and image zoom in video sequences." Once NASA's new software improves the video quality, existing software can sharpen and "de-blur" images, further enhancing video clarity. "This technology has the potential to become a part of many

products, from those used by everyday Americans to those used by sophisticated security and video production companies," said Hathaway. Marshall's Technology Transfer Office is working with the inventors to license the technology so industry can turn it into a commercial product. - end -