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Proceedings Paper

Comparison between a low-light-level visible channel and an IR channel for spaceborne night imaging
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Paper Abstract

Aiming at night time spaceborne imaging, we compare the expected performances of a low-light-level visible sensor with a conventional IR sensor. The low-light-level visible sensor, an electron multiplier CCD (EMCCD), is a close to ideal photon counting device, with possibly negligible dark current noise and negligible readout noise. This fact, along with the significant improvement of diffraction (about an order of magnitude), suggests an interesting competition between the two technologies. In essence, this is a tradeoff between noise and optical performances (favoring the visible channel) and basic target radiance (favoring IR). Other factors such as reliability and cost can also play an important role. While we consider two different spectral ranges with different imaging content, we are able to conduct a cautious theoretical comparison based on standard targets in various lighting conditions. We show that for a given set of system parameters, even when lighting conditions are favorable, i.e. a night with a full moon, the low-light-level visible channel performances are inferior to those of an IR channel. We also comment on the significance of the system working point regarding performances under varying condition.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 April 2008
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 6940, Infrared Technology and Applications XXXIV, 69401H (16 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.778873
Show Author Affiliations
Guy Raz, Elbit Systems Electro-Optics ELOP Ltd. (Israel)
Meira Citroen, Elbit Systems Electro-Optics ELOP Ltd. (Israel)
Michael Berger, Elbit Systems Electro-Optics ELOP Ltd. (Israel)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6940:
Infrared Technology and Applications XXXIV
Bjørn F. Andresen; Gabor F. Fulop; Paul R. Norton, Editor(s)

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