# Scattering

**Scattering**

The process by which small particles suspended in a medium of a different index of refraction diffuse a portion of the incident radiation in all directions. In scattering, no energy transformation results, only a change in the spatial distribution of the radiation. Also called *scatter. *

*Along with absorption, scattering is a major cause of the attenuation of radiation by the atmosphere. Scattering varies as a function of the [[ratio] of the particle diameter to the wavelength of the radiation. When this ratio is less than about one-tenth, Rayleigh scattering occurs in which the scattering coefficient varies inversely as the fourth power of the wavelength. At larger values of the ratio of particle diameter to wavelength, the scattering varies in a complex fashion described by the Mie theory; at a ratio of the order of 10, the laws of geometric optics begin to apply. *

## References

*This article is based on NASA's Dictionary of Technical Terms for Aerospace Use*