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The statistical properties of image pixel brightness were investigated to provide a rationale for the choice of the necessary mathematical image model. Video recordings of the ground situation, obtained from the onboard optical-location system of an unmanned aerial vehicle, were generated and analyzed. The requirements for a mathematical model of brightness under ground-based background-target conditions were formulated. Based on these requirements, a semi-Markov model of brightness with Poisson moments of transition from one state to another was proposed to describe pixel brightness. The adequacy of the proposed model in describing pixel brightness has been verified.
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