Summary
Multispectral imaging captures image data within specific wavelength ranges across the electromagnetic spectrum. The wavelengths may be separated by filters or detected with the use of instruments that are sensitive to particular wavelengths, including light from frequencies beyond the visible light range, i.e. infrared and ultra-violet. It can allow extraction of additional information the human eye fails to capture with its visible receptors for red, green and blue. It was originally developed for military target identification and reconnaissance. Early space-based imaging platforms incorporated multispectral imaging technology to map details of the Earth related to coastal boundaries, vegetation, and landforms. Multispectral imaging has also found use in document and painting analysis. Multispectral imaging measures light in a small number (typically 3 to 15) of spectral bands. Hyperspectral imaging is a special case of spectral imaging where often hundreds of contiguous spectral bands are available. Multispectral imaging measures light emission and is often used in detecting or tracking military targets. In 2003, researchers at the United States Army Research Laboratory and the Federal Laboratory Collaborative Technology Alliance reported a dual band multispectral imaging focal plane array (FPA). This FPA allowed researchers to look at two infrared (IR) planes at the same time. Because mid-wave infrared (MWIR) and long wave infrared (LWIR) technologies measure radiation inherent to the object and require no external light source, they also are referred to as thermal imaging methods. The brightness of the image produced by a thermal imager depends on the objects emissivity and temperature. Every material has an infrared signature that aids in the identification of the object. These signatures are less pronounced in hyperspectral systems (which image in many more bands than multispectral systems) and when exposed to wind and, more dramatically, to rain. Sometimes the surface of the target may reflect infrared energy.
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