Comparison of the Inversion Periods for Polarimetric and Conventional Long-wave IR (LWIR) Imagery

Report No. ARL-TR-4931
Authors: M. Felton, K. P. Gurton, L. E. Roth, J. L. Pezzaniti, and D. B. Chenault
Date/Pages: August 2009; 28 pages
Abstract: We report the results of a multi-day diurnal study in which radiometrically calibrated polarimetric and conventional thermal imagery is recorded in the long-wave IR (LWIR) to identify/compare the respective time periods in which minimum target contrast is achieved, e.g., thermal inversion periods are typically experienced during dusk and dawn. Imagery is recorded with a polarimetric IR sensor employing a 324x256 microbolometer array using a spinning achromatic retarder to perform the polarimetric filtering. The images used in this study include the S0, normalized S1, and normalized S2 Stokes images and the degree of linear polarization (DOLP) images of a scene containing military vehicles and the natural background. In addition, relevant meteorological parameters measured during the test period include air temperature, ambient loading in the LWIR, relative humidity, and cloud cover, height and density. The data shows that the chief factors affecting polarimetric contrast are the amount of thermal emission from the objects in the scene and the abundance of LWIR sources in the optical background. In addition, we found that contrast between targets and background within polarimetric images often remains relatively high during periods of low thermal contrast.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: August 1, 2009