28 September 2006 Random fluctuations of optical signal path delay in the atmosphere
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Abstract
Atmospheric turbulence induces random delay fluctuations to any optical signal transmitted through the air. These fluctuations can influence for example the measurement precision of laser rangefinders. We have found an appropriate theoretical model based on geometrical optics that allows us to predict the amplitude of the random delay fluctuations for different observing conditions. We have successfully proved the applicability of this model by a series of experiments, directly determining the amplitude of the turbulence-induced pulse delay fluctuations by analysis of a high precision laser ranging data. Moreover, we have also shown that a standard theoretical approach based on diffractive propagation of light through inhomogeneous media and implemented using the GLAD software is not suitable for modeling of the optical signal delay fluctuations caused by the atmosphere. These models based on diffractive propagation predict the turbulence-induced optical path length fluctuations of the order of micrometers, whereas the fluctuations predicted by the geometrical optics model (in agreement with our experimental data) are generally larger by two orders of magnitude, i.e. in the submillimeter range. The reason of this discrepancy is a subject to discussion.
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L. Kral, L. Kral, I. Prochazka, I. Prochazka, K. Hamal, K. Hamal, } "Random fluctuations of optical signal path delay in the atmosphere", Proc. SPIE 6364, Optics in Atmospheric Propagation and Adaptive Systems IX, 63640M (28 September 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.686658; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.686658
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