Effects of random path fluctuations on the accuracy of laser ranging systems

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The effects of turbulence induced pathlength fluctuations on the accuracy of single color and two color laser ranging systems are examined. Correlation and structure functions for the path deviations are derived using several proposed models for the variation of Cn2 with altitude. For single color systems, random pathlength fluctuations can limit the accuracy of a range measurement to a few centimeters when the turbulence is strong (Cn 2−10-13 m-2/3), and the effective propagation path is long (>10 km). Two color systems can partially correct for the random path fluctuations so that in most cases their accuracy is limited to a few millimeters. However, at low elevation angles for satellite ranging (<20°) and over long horizontal paths, two color systems can also have errors approaching a few centimeters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2539-2545
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Optics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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