Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of the limiting attainable values of temperature sensitivity--the threshold value of the noise-equivalent temperature difference (NETD) of staring thermal viewers. Calculational formulas are obtained that take into account how the sensitivity is affected by photon noise, the capacitance of the signal accumulator, and the spatial inhomogeneity of the staring-array response. The limiting NETD values are quantitatively determined for the mid-wavelength and long-wavelength windows of transparency of the atmosphere, along with the conditions under which they can be achieved.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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