Simulation of a polarized laser beam reflected at the sea surface: Modeling and validation
A 3-D simulation of the polarization-dependent reflection of a Gaussian shaped laser beam on the dynamic sea surface is presented. The simulation considers polarized or unpolarized laser sources and calculates the polarization states upon reflection at the sea surface. It is suitable for the radiance calculation of the scene in different spectral wavebands (e.g. near-infrared, SWIR, etc.) not including the camera degradations. The simulation also considers a bistatic configuration of laser source and receiver as well as different atmospheric conditions. In the SWIR, the detected total power of reflected laser light is compared with data collected in a field trial. Our computer simulation combines the 3-D simulation of a maritime scene (open sea/clear sky) with the simulation of polarized or unpolarized laser light reflected at the sea surface. The basic sea surface geometry is modeled by a composition of smooth wind driven gravity waves. To predict the input of a camera equipped with a linear polarizer, the polarized sea surface radiance must be calculated for the specific waveband. The s- and p-polarization states are calculated for the emitted sea surface radiance and the specularly reflected sky radiance to determine the total polarized sea surface radiance of each component. The states of polarization and the radiance of laser light specularly reflected at the wind-roughened sea surface are calculated by considering the s- and p- components of the electric field of laser light with respect to the specular plane of incidence. This is done by using the formalism of their coherence matrices according to E. Wolf . Additionally, an analytical statistical sea surface BRDF (bidirectional reflectance distribution function) is considered for the reflection of laser light radiances. Validation of the simulation results is required to ensure model credibility and applicability to maritime laser applications. For validation purposes, field measurement data (images and meteorological data) was analyzed. An infrared laser, with or without a mounted polarizer, produced laser beam reflection at the water surface and images were recorded by a camera equipped with a polarizer with horizontal or vertical alignment. The validation is done by numerical comparison of measured total laser power extracted from recorded images with the corresponding simulation results. The results of the comparison are presented for different incident (zenith/azimuth) angles of the laser beam and different alignment for the laser polarizers (vertical/horizontal/without) and the camera (vertical/horizontal).