Abstract

The spatial structure of thermal images of natural terrain is analyzed. This structure is related through the heat balance equation to the thermal properties of the terrain and to the heat input from an external source. It is shown that the spatial autocorrelation of the terrain thermal image is a weighted superposition of the spatial autocorrelation functions of the thermal conductivity and absorbtivity. The relative weight of each changes as a function of the external heat source leading to a time-dependent autocorrelation function. Experimental results show an adequate agreement with the theoretical assumptions and prove that the correlation length of the thermal image decreases as the heat source strength increases.

© 1986 Optical Society of America

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