Optical EngineeringPerformance characteristics of a scanning laser imaging system through atmospheric turbulence
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The transverse angular (spatial) imaging performance of a laser imaging system through atmospheric turbulence is characterized and described in a practical sense. The system is assumed to scan a far-field scene with a collimated Gaussian beam truncated by a circular aperture and a single channel receiver records the returns. The system point spread function is defined as the average beam profile at the scene and the half-angle beam spread is used to characterize the point spread function. A system modulation transfer function is defined that includes the effects of beam diffraction and turbulence. Spatial sampling of the scene is also considered. A normalized resolution metric (Strehl ratio) is applied to investigate the effects of sampling, beam size, turbulence, and beam truncation. The analysis indicates that resolution will be reduced by more than 90% in homogenous turbulence when the beam waist size is on the order of the atmospheric coherence length. Consistency with conventional imaging performance is discussed.