Optical EngineeringAerosol modulation transfer function model for passive long-range imaging over a nonuniform atmospheric path
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An aerosol modulation transfer function (MTF) model is developed to assess the impact of aerosol scattering on passive long-range imaging sensors. The methodology extends from previous work to explicitly address imaging scenarios with a nonuniform distribution of scattering characteristics over the propagation path and incorporates the moderate resolution transfer code database of aerosol cross-section and phase function characteristics in order to provide an empirical foundation for realistic quantitative MTF assessments. The resulting model is compared with both predictions from a Monte-Carlo scattering simulation and a scene-derived MTF estimate from an empirical image, with reasonable agreement in both cases. Application to long-range imaging situations at both visible and infrared wavelengths indicates that the magnitude and functional form of the aerosol MTF differ significantly from other contributors to the composite system MTF. Furthermore, the image-quality impact is largely radiometric in the sense that the contrast reduction is approximately independent of spatial frequency, and image blur is practically negligible.