Stray light, any unwanted radiation that reaches the focal plane of an optical system, reduces image contrast, creates false signals or obscures faint ones, and ultimately degrades radiometric accuracy. These detrimental effects can have a profound impact on the usability of collected Earth-observing remote sensing data, which must be radiometrically calibrated to be useful for scientific applications. Understanding the full impact of stray light on data scientific utility is of particular concern for lower cost, more compact imaging systems, which inherently provide fewer opportunities for stray light control. To address these concerns, this research presents a general methodology for integrating point spread function (PSF) and stray light performance data from optomechanical system models in optical engineering software with a radiative transfer image simulation model. This integration method effectively emulates the PSF and stray light performance of a detailed system model within a high-fidelity scene, thus producing realistic simulated imagery. This novel capability enables system trade studies and sensitivity analyses to be conducted on parameters of interest, particularly those that influence stray light, by analyzing their quantitative impact on user applications when imaging realistic operational scenes. For Earth science applications, this method is useful in assessing the impact of stray light performance on retrieving surface temperature, ocean color products such as chlorophyll concentration or dissolved organic matter, etc. The knowledge gained from this model integration also provides insight into how specific stray light requirements translate to user application impact, which can be leveraged in writing more informed stray light requirements.

In addition to detailing the methodology's radiometric framework, we describe the collection of necessary raytrace data from an optomechanical system model (in this case, using FRED Optical Engineering Software), and present PSF and stray light component validation tests through imaging Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Image Generation (DIRSIG) model test scenes. We then demonstrate the integration method's ability to produce quantitative metrics to assess the impact of stray light-focused system trade studies on user applications using a Cassegrain telescope model and a stray light-stressing coastal scene under various system and scene conditions. This case study showcases the stray light images and other detailed performance data produced by the integration method that take into account both a system's stray light susceptibility and a scene's at-aperture radiance profile to determine the stray light contribution of specific system components or stray light paths. The innovative contributions provided by this work represent substantial improvements over current stray light modeling and simulation techniques, where the scene image formation is decoupled from the physical system stray light modeling, and can aid in the design of future Earth-observing imaging systems. This work ultimately establishes an integrated-systems approach that combines the effects of scene content and the optomechanical components, resulting in a more realistic and higher fidelity system performance prediction.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Optomechanics--Data processing; Remote sensing--Data processing; Remote-sensing images; Radiative transfer

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Imaging Science (Ph.D.)

Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


John Kerekes

Advisor/Committee Member

Alan Raisanen

Advisor/Committee Member

Michael Gartley


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes