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Diffraction and Polarization Effects in Radiation Heat Transfer: A Case Study

[+] Author Affiliations
J. Robert Mahan

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Anum R. Barki, Kory J. Priestley

NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

Paper No. HT2017-4804, pp. V001T02A002; 7 pages
  • ASME 2017 Heat Transfer Summer Conference
  • Volume 1: Aerospace Heat Transfer; Computational Heat Transfer; Education; Environmental Heat Transfer; Fire and Combustion Systems; Gas Turbine Heat Transfer; Heat Transfer in Electronic Equipment; Heat Transfer in Energy Systems
  • Bellevue, Washington, USA, July 9–12, 2017
  • Conference Sponsors: Heat Transfer Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5788-5
  • Copyright © 2017 by ASME


The Monte-Carlo ray-trace (MCRT) method is particularly well suited to the optical design of instrumentation in which very small radiant signals must be separated from a strong background. The present contribution explores an important application lying at the intersection of physical optics and radiation heat transfer. Specifically, we consider instruments intended to monitor the planetary energy budget from low earth orbit. To accommodate the increasingly exigent accuracy requirements imposed by the Earth science community, it has become necessary to include effects such as diffraction and polarization that are normally omitted in traditional radiation heat transfer modeling. This requires that the usual concept of a “ray” be extended to include wavelength, a phase angle, and polarization. A realistic instrument concept is considered that fully exercises the ability of such an approach to capture optical effects that are either ignored or assessed “offline” in traditional modeling efforts. Investigated is the range of variation of detector illumination when the effects of the source spectral content, diffraction, and polarization are included.

Copyright © 2017 by ASME



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