Atmospheric turbulence modulation transfer function for infrared target acquisition modeling

Keith Krapels, Ronald G. Driggers, Richard H. Vollmerhausen, Norman S. Kopeika, Carl E. Halford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


A new direction for the US Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate is the development of ultra-narrow field of view (UNFOV) infrared target acquisition (TA) systems. Frequently, the performance of these systems is limited by atmospheric turbulence in the imaging path. It is desirable to include the effects of atmospheric turbulence blur in infrared TA models. The current TA models are currently linear shift invariant (LSI) systems with component modulation transfer functions (MTFs). The use of additional MTFs, to account for atmospheric turbulence, requires that the turbulence blur have LSI properties. The primary unresolved issue with the treatment of turbulence blur as an MTF is the LSI characteristics of the blur. Significant variation in spatial blur and temporal blur prohibit the use of a single MTF in an LSI target acquisition model. Researchers at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) use a TA model that includes an LSI blur, which is a temporal average of the turbulence blur. The research described here evaluates the BGU-type treatment of atmospheric MTF and determines it reasonable for inclusion in the US Army’s TA model. In addition to the spatial characteristics, the temporal variation of the turbulence blur is also described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1906-1913
Number of pages8
JournalOptical Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric MTF
  • Target acquisition
  • Turbulence MTF
  • Turbulence blur

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • General Engineering


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