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19 May 2005 A range/depth modulation transfer function (RMTF) framework for characterizing 3D imaging LADAR performance
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3D imaging LADARs have emerged as the key technology for producing high-resolution imagery of targets in 3-dimensions (X and Y spatial, and Z in the range/depth dimension). Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. continues to make significant investments in this technology to enable critical NASA, Department of Defense, and national security missions. As a consequence of rapid technology developments, two issues have emerged that need resolution. First, the terminology used to rate LADAR performance (e.g., range resolution) is inconsistently defined, is improperly used, and thus has become misleading. Second, the terminology does not include a metric of the system’s ability to resolve the 3D depth features of targets. These two issues create confusion when translating customer requirements into hardware. This paper presents a candidate framework for addressing these issues. To address the consistency issue, the framework utilizes only those terminologies proposed and tested by leading LADAR research and standards institutions. We also provide suggestions for strengthening these definitions by linking them to the well-known Rayleigh criterion extended into the range dimension. To address the inadequate 3D image quality metrics, the framework introduces the concept of a Range/Depth Modulation Transfer Function (RMTF). The RMTF measures the impact of the spatial frequencies of a 3D target on its measured modulation in range/depth. It is determined using a new, Range-Based, Slanted Knife-Edge test. We present simulated results for two LADAR pulse detection techniques and compare them to a baseline centroid technique. Consistency in terminology plus a 3D image quality metric enable improved system standardization.
© (2005) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Bevan Staple, R. Patrick Earhart, Philip A. Slaymaker, Thomas F. Drouillard II, and Thomas Mahony "A range/depth modulation transfer function (RMTF) framework for characterizing 3D imaging LADAR performance", Proc. SPIE 5791, Laser Radar Technology and Applications X, (19 May 2005);


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