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12 May 2006 Atmospheric turbulence effects on 3rd generation FLIR performance
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Previous analysis of ground-to-ground 3rd Generation FLIR performance (Driggers, et al1) showed two main performance characteristics of the 3rd Gen sensor's MWIR and LWIR bands: first, that no major differences in detection range were observed between the two bands, and second, that a significant ID range advantage for the MWIR band over the LWIR band resulted from the smaller diffraction spot of the shorter wavelength MWIR. That analysis predicted performance for a variety of atmospheric transmittances but only at a single, relatively low value of atmospheric turbulence. In this paper, analysis of the effect of varying turbulence shows that increased turbulence decreases the ID range performance of the MWIR relative to the LWIR, and that at high turbulence values the two bands have roughly equivalent performance. Further, the LWIR band actually surpasses the ID range performance of MWIR at high turbulence for some systems. Frequency of occurrence data collected in multiple environments shows a predominance of moderate to high turbulence conditions in the real world. The superior ID range performance of the MWIR is thus achievable only under limited real-world conditions, and the LWIR can surpass the performance of the MWIR in significant scenarios (desert, day). For maximum performance under a variety of conditions the dual band capability of 3rd Gen FLIR systems is thus required.
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Phil Richardson and Ronald G. Driggers "Atmospheric turbulence effects on 3rd generation FLIR performance", Proc. SPIE 6207, Infrared Imaging Systems: Design, Analysis, Modeling, and Testing XVII, 620706 (12 May 2006);

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