Development and validation of a second generation visibility-based model for predicting subjective and objective minimum resolvable temperature difference for staring thermal imaging systems
Groen, Michael S.
Cooper, Alfred W.
Pieper, Ron J.
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Several models have been proposed to predict the minimum resolvable temperature difference (MRTD) performance of second generation thermal imaging systems (TIS) which incorporate staring focal plane arrays. It has been suggested that these models are not accurate for predicting the performance of second generation staring focal plane arrays which have severe phasing or sampling characteristics not amenable to linear modulation transfer function analysis. A second problem with these models is that they require a particular set of assumptions concerning the observer eye/brain recognition process, limiting their usefulness in the prediction of performance for systems that incorporate automatic target recognition (ATR) devices. In this thesis, a new model is presented for predicting the MRTD performance of second generation thermal imagers based on a minimum threshold input contrast, and a contrast reduction factor due to aliasing and blurring effects. The model makes no assumptions regarding the recognition process, which allows a separate threshold value to be defined for either a human or machine observer. The model incorporates aliasing concepts, and extends performance prediction beyond the nominal Nyquist rate of the system. The model's predictions are compared to the predictions of the current standard FUR92 model and measured laboratory results for two different staring focal plane array imagers. In both cases, the models's predictions match measured results more closely than the predictions of FLIR92.
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