The interfacial fluid thickness (IFT) concept was used to develop a harmonic-mean refractive index gradient magnitude threshold to retrieve the high refractive index gradient regions of an aerodynamically heated window. The retrieved high-gradient regions were used to reconstruct the refractive index field of the window. The numerical three-dimensional optical distortion evaluation was conducted for both the reconstructed and the original refractive index fields of the window using the ray-tracing program based on a recursive algorithm. Wave aberration results show that the methodology based on the IFT concept reduces the refractive index information required to capture the essential optical distortion of the window. The method can also be used for numerically evaluating the optical distortion of the window.
© 2011 Optical Society of America
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