19 October 2016 Measurement of optical blurring in a turbulent cloud chamber
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Earth’s atmosphere can significantly impact the propagation of electromagnetic radiation, degrading the performance of imaging systems. Deleterious effects of the atmosphere include turbulence, absorption and scattering by particulates. Turbulence leads to blurring, while absorption attenuates the energy that reaches imaging sensors. The optical properties of aerosols and clouds also impact radiation propagation via scattering, resulting in decorrelation from unscattered light. Models have been proposed for calculating a point spread function (PSF) for aerosol scattering, providing a method for simulating the contrast and spatial detail expected when imaging through atmospheres with significant aerosol optical depth. However, these synthetic images and their predicating theory would benefit from comparison with measurements in a controlled environment. Recently, Michigan Technological University (MTU) has designed a novel laboratory cloud chamber. This multiphase, turbulent “Pi Chamber” is capable of pressures down to 100 hPa and temperatures from -55 to +55°C. Additionally, humidity and aerosol concentrations are controllable. These boundary conditions can be combined to form and sustain clouds in an instrumented laboratory setting for measuring the impact of clouds on radiation propagation. This paper describes an experiment to generate mixing and expansion clouds in supersaturated conditions with salt aerosols, and an example of measured imagery viewed through the generated cloud is shown. Aerosol and cloud droplet distributions measured during the experiment are used to predict scattering PSF and MTF curves, and a methodology for validating existing theory is detailed. Measured atmospheric inputs will be used to simulate aerosol-induced image degradation for comparison with measured imagery taken through actual cloud conditions. The aerosol MTF will be experimentally calculated and compared to theoretical expressions. The key result of this study is the proposal of a closure experiment for verification of theoretical aerosol effects using actual clouds in a controlled laboratory setting.
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Corey D. Packard, Corey D. Packard, David S. Ciochetto, David S. Ciochetto, Will H. Cantrell, Will H. Cantrell, Michael C. Roggemann, Michael C. Roggemann, Raymond A. Shaw, Raymond A. Shaw, } "Measurement of optical blurring in a turbulent cloud chamber", Proc. SPIE 10002, Optics in Atmospheric Propagation and Adaptive Systems XIX, 100020E (19 October 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2241419; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2241419

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