The problem of mine and minefield detection continues to provide a significant challenge to sensor systems. Although the various sensor technologies (infrared, ground penetrating radar, etc.) may excel in certain situations there does not exist a single sensor technology that can adequately detect mines in all conditions such as time of day, weather, buried or surface laid, etc. A truly robust mine detection system will likely require the fusion of data from multiple sensor technologies. The performance of these systems, however, will ultimately depend on the performance of the individual sensors. Infrared (IR) polarimetry is a new and innovative sensor technology that adds substantial capabilities to the detection of mines. IR polarimetry improves on basic IR imaging by providing improved spatial resolution of the target, an inherent ability to suppress clutter, and the capability for zero (Delta) T imaging. Nichols Research Corporation (Nichols) is currently evaluating the effectiveness of IR polarization for mine detection. This study is partially funded by the U.S. Army Night Vision & Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD). The goal of the study is to demonstrate, through phenomenology studies and limited field trials, that IR polarizaton outperforms conventional IR imaging in the mine detection arena.
Nichols Research Corporation is currently developing innovative imaging polarimetric sensors for a number of applications such as mine and minefield detection, aircraft ice detection, and remote sensing. The wave bands in which the various sensors operate include the visible, mid-wave infrared (IR), and long-wave IR bands. This paper will summarize the current research that Nichols is conducting in the field of remote sensing using imaging polarimetric cameras. The polarization signatures of various targets, acquired from ranges up to 10 kilometers, will be presented for all three wave-bands. The benefits obtained using polarimetric imaging will be discussed along with potential applications for this innovative technology including possible astronomical observation applications.
The detection and discrimination of man-made objects in a terrain or sky background has long been a challenge to the military. Conventional infrared (IR) systems suffer from poor spatial resolution and have a difficult time imaging targets when there is little or no thermal variation ((Delta) T) in the scene. These applications, as well as applications such as aircraft ice detection, can benefit from an imaging system that can overcome these and other limitations. In this paper an enhanced IR imaging sensor which overcomes the above shortcomings is described. Its advantages are detailed and accompanied by numerous experimental examples. The focus in this paper is on the performance of the sensor, and the benefits derived therefrom, not on sensor processing theory.