Researchers from the University of Central Florida recently carried out a series of measurements over a concrete runway and a grass range using a 632.8 nm Gaussian beam propagated for 100 or 125 m at a height of 2 m. Mean intensity and scintillation index contours varied significantly throughout these measurements in ways that corresponded to more than simple isotropy or anisotropy of optical turbulence. A simple theory is developed to show the effect of a nonlinear index of refraction gradient in addition to the possibility of anisotropic turbulence. Theoretical contours are compared to experimental results which seem to indicate the presence of a beam shaping phenomena near the ground in addition to anisotropy.
Ground to air temperature gradients drive the creation and evolution of optical turbulence in the atmospheric boundary layer. Ground composition is an important factor when observing and measuring the generated optical turbulence. Surface roughness and thermal characteristics influence the formation of optical turbulence eddies. The Space Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at The Kennedy Space Center offers a unique opportunity to measure the generation and evolution of these turbulent eddies, while also providing a temperature gradient “Step Function” after which turbulence evolution can be analyzed. We present the analysis of data collected on the SLF during May of 2018. Mobile towers instrumented with sonic anemometers are used to examine the statistics of turbulent eddies leaving the increased heat gradient of the runway. This data is compared to an optical scintillometer and other local weather station data. Point and path average C<sub>n</sub><sup>2</sup> data are calculated and attention is given to turbulence spectrum as a function of height above ground.
We present an experimental evaluation of a multi-aperture laser transmissometer system which profiles long-term laser beam statistics over long paths. While the system was originally designed to measure the aerosol extinction rate, the beam profiling capabilities of the transmissometer system also allows experimental observations of Gaussian beam statistics in weak and strong turbulence. Additionally, measurement of long-term beam spread at the receiver allows the system to estimate a path-averaged C<sub>n</sub><sup>2</sup>, including in strong turbulence regimes where scintillometers experience saturation effects. Additionally, a phase-frequency correlation technique for synchronizing with transmitter ON/OFF modulation in the presence of background ambient light is presented. In application, our ruggedized and weather resistant laser transmissometer system has significant advantages for the measurement and study of aerosol concentration, absorption, scattering, and turbulence properties over multi-kilometer paths, which are crucial for directed energy systems, ground-level free-space optical communication systems, environmental monitoring, and weather forecasting.
Recently, the number of optical systems that operate along near horizontal paths within a few meters of the ground has increased rapidly. Examples are LIDAR or optical sensors imbedded in a vehicle, long range surveillance or optical communication systems, a LIFI network, new weather monitoring stations, as well as directed energy systems for defense purposes. Near ground turbulence distortion for optical waves used in those systems cannot be well described by conventional turbulence and beam propagation theory. Phenomena such as anisotropy, micro mirage effects, a temporal negative relation between diurnal dips and altitude, and condensation induced measurement errors are frequently involved. As a result, there is a high risk of defective designs or even failures in those optical systems if the near ground turbulence effects are not well considered. To illustrate such risk, we make C<sub>n</sub><sup>2</sup> measurements by different approaches and cross compare them with associated working principles. By demonstrating the reasons for mismatched C<sub>n</sub><sup>2</sup> results, we point out a few guidelines regarding how to use the general anisotropy theorem and the risk of ignoring it. Our conclusions can be further supported by an advanced plenoptic sensor that provides continuous wavefront data.
The usage of long-range optical systems for tracking applications encounters regions of deep turbulence throughout propagation. Such conditions lead to the inability to remain on target for a tracked object due to scintillation. To mitigate this issue, a double pass optical system is utilized as a means of tracking enhanced backscatter (EBS) and thus keeping alignment while characterizing turbulent conditions. EBS is detected through image processing algorithms that capture the returning constructive interference from the target. This paper evaluates EBS optical systems using a retro-reflector at a 1 kilometer distance in order to validate theoretical models that typify atmospheric turbulence regarding low-ground propagation. Meteorological conditions are also included in the empirical data obtained for the analysis of atmospheric conditions that contribute to non-homogenous turbulent conditions along the path.
Utilizing a retro-reflector from a target point, the reflected irradiance of a laser beam traveling back toward the transmitting point contains a peak point of intensity known as the enhanced backscatter (EBS) phenomenon. EBS is dependent on the strength regime of turbulence currently occurring within the atmosphere as the beam propagates across and back. In order to capture and analyze this phenomenon so that it may be compared to theory, an imaging system is integrated into the optical set up. With proper imaging established, we are able to implement various post-image acquisition techniques to help determine detection and positioning of EBS which can then be validated with theory by inspection of certain dependent meteorological parameters such as the refractive index structure parameter, Cn<sup>2</sup> and wind speed.