Solutions to the inverse problem of spectral retrieval are found in a computationally efficient process.

A methodology for processing spectral images to retrieve information on underlying physical, chemical, and/or biological phenomena is based on evolutionary and related computational methods implemented in software. In a typical case, the solution (the information that one seeks to retrieve) consists of parameters of a mathematical model that represents one or more of the phenomena of interest.

This Conceptual Framework for Spectral Retrieval, and the software that implements it, comprises three modules that interact in an iterative process.
The methodology was developed for the initial purpose of retrieving the desired information from spectral image data acquired by remote-sensing instruments aimed at planets (including the Earth). Examples of information desired in such applications include trace gas concentrations, temperature profiles, surface types, day/night fractions, cloud/aerosol fractions, seasons, and viewing angles. The methodology is also potentially useful for retrieving information on chemical and/or biological hazards in terrestrial settings.

In this methodology, one utilizes an iterative process that minimizes a fitness function indicative of the degree of dissimilarity between observed and synthetic spectral and angular data. The evolutionary computing methods that lie at the heart of this process yield a population of solutions (sets of the desired parameters) within an accuracy represented by a fitness-function value specified by the user. The evolutionary computing methods (ECM) used in this methodology are Genetic Algorithms and Simulated Annealing, both of which are well-established optimization techniques and have also been described in previous NASA Tech Briefs articles. These are embedded in a conceptual framework, represented in the architecture of the implementing software, that enables automatic retrieval of spectral and angular data and analysis of the retrieved solutions for uniqueness. This framework is composed of three modules (see figure):

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