An irregular grid model was employed to describe the refractive index distribution of an aerodynamically heated optical dome according to the theories of thermo-optical and elasto-optical effects. Optical transmission through the dome was simulated using the ray-tracing program based on a fourth-order Runge–Kutta algorithm. Two kinds of imaging quality evaluation parameters were presented, wave aberration of the exit pupil and a modulation transfer function. To validate the ray-tracing program, a ray trace through a regular gradient medium was performed. Results were compared with those obtained from the analytic solution. The program was shown to possess great accuracy by using the appropriate parameters.
© 2010 Optical Society of America
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