Thermal imaging through the atmosphere: atmospheric modulation transfer function theory and verification Academic Article uri icon


  • Atmospheric modulation transfer function (MTF) measurements carried out simultaneously in both thermal imaging atmospheric windows using both passive and actively heated targets are presented. Results indicate rather significant angular spatial frequency dependence of the MTF, in contradiction to the conventional approach, which assumes contrast transfer is atmospheric transmission only. A theoretical explanation is discussed, based on aerosol forward scattering and absorption effects, which is shown to be angular spatial frequency dependent and yields MTF results similar to those measured. This means that small details are blurred much more than large details by the atmosphere, thus also affecting target acquisition probabilities.

publication date

  • January 1, 1994