Polarization adds another dimension to the spatial intensity and spectral information typically acquired in remote sensing. Polarization imparted by surface reflections contains unique and discriminatory signatures which may augment spectral target-detection techniques. While efforts have been made toward quantifying the polarimetric bidirectional reflectance distribution function (pBRDF) responsible for target material polarimetric signatures, little has been done toward developing a description of the polarized background or scene clutter. An approach is presented for measuring the pBRDF of background materials such as vegetation. The governing equation for polarized radiance reaching a sensor aperture is first developed and serves as a basis for understanding outdoor pBRDF measurements, as well as polarimetric remote sensing. The pBRDF measurements are acquired through an imaging technique which enables derivation of the BRDF variability as a function of the ground separation distance (GSD). An image subtraction technique is used to minimize measurement errors resulting from the partially polarized downwelled sky radiance. Quantifying the GSD-dependent BRDF variability is critical for background materials which are typically spatially inhomogeneous. Preliminary results from employing the measurement technique are presented.

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Copyright 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.

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Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science (COS)


RIT – Main Campus