The accurate determination of dust levels on optical surfaces is necessary to assess sensor system performance. A comparison study was made on several particle measurement methods including those based on direct imaging and light scattering. The effectiveness of removing the particles from the surface prior to determining particle size distributions was also assessed.
These studies revealed that some methods, especially those requiring particle removal before analysis, are subject to large systematic errors affecting particle size distributions. Thus, an understanding of the particle measurement methods employed is necessary before any surface cleanliness or obstruction value assignments are accepted as a true representation of an optical surface contamination condition.