Measuring the infrared intensity of a close-up resolved target with close-up blackbody references

Jeff Meier, Kenny Emmanuel, Zach Whitfield, Matthew Hester, Patrick O'Shea, Ronald G. Driggers, Carl Halford, Orges Furxhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The intensity of objects in the infrared is an important quantity for a number of applications. Intensity in watts per steradian is the parameter that is used to describe either small targets or targets that are far away. Intensity is used because these cases are usually presented to a detection sensor where the object is smaller than the sensor detector angular subtense, a situation known as an "unresolved target."In the military, unresolved targets can be rocket-propelled grenades, man-portable air defense threats, enemy aircraft at long range, or even ground vehicles that are being engaged by ground-to-ground or air-to-ground missiles. Typical "resolved target"metrics such as root-sum-squared differential temperature do not work well for unresolved targets. In addition, a given target intensity coupled with range, atmospheric transmission, and sensor noise equivalent irradiance can provide a quick signal-to-noise estimate of a particular sensor against a particular target. Target intensity can even be a measure of how visible ones platform is to other sensor and can be used to reduce platform signatures. Measurement of intensity is always a difficult procedure, where there is typically a sensor that does not encompass all aspects of measurement parameters. For example, there are very few radiometers that include high-resolution spatial measurements with high-resolution spectral measurements with high-resolution temporal measurements, not to mention polarization. For the few systems that exist that can provide a simultaneous measurement with most of these parameters, the cost is prohibitive. Usually, a spectral radiometer will provide high spectral resolution with no spatial information and a slow temporal rate. These measurements are common. In the case we describe here, the intensity measurement is taken broadband in the midwave or longwave infrared regions with good spatial resolution. This measurement provides a band integrated intensity measurement. We describe an approach for sensor calibration and object intensity measurement that can be used for broadband sensors applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103108
JournalOptical Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • imaging systems
  • infrared
  • measurements
  • radiometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering(all)


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