We present a theoretical analysis on use of polarized light in the detection of a model target in a scattering and absorbing medium similar to seawater. Monte Carlo numerical simulations are used in the calculation of the effective Mueller matrix which describes the scattering process. A target in the shape of a disk is divided into three regions, each of which has the same albedo but different reduced Mueller matrices. Contrast between various parts of the target and background is analyzed in the images created by ordinary radiance, by various elements of the Mueller matrix, and by certain suitable combinations of these elements. It is shown that the application of polarized light has distinct advantages in target detection and characterization when compared with use of unpolarized light.
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