Spatial Resolution of Equatorial Plasma Depletions Using Variable-Range Time-Delay Integration
Napiecek, Andrew Webster
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Previous plasma imaging missions have used time-delay integration techniques that correct for uniform motion blur during integration. This was due to the assumed constant range-to-target of each pixel in the observed scene. ICON's low orbital altitude and twelve second integration time create non-uniform motion blur across the observed scene and necessitate a novel variable-range time-delay integration (TDI) algorithm be used to spatially resolve the two-dimensional images. The variable-range TDI algorithm corrects for each pixel moving at a different angular rate throughout image integration and transforms each raw image onto a surface where the spacecraft is moving at a constant angular rate with respect to every pixel in the image. Then as the raw images are co-added together the non-uniform motion of the observed scene is accounted for and will not geographically distort the final images, or any features seen within them. Through simulation using output from the SAMI3 model during plasma depletion formation it was determined that the structuring and gradients of plasma depletions can be recovered using this technique. Additionally, the effects of depletion width, solar activity level, and misalignment of the field-of-view with the local magnetic field were investigated. The variable-range TDI technique is able to recover the overall shape and depth of depletion of the depletions in all cases, however the determination of gradients observed at depletion walls is significantly degraded for very narrow plasma depletions and during periods of low solar activity. All simulated model conditions were shown to be representative of current ionospheric conditions.
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