Optical EngineeringDiffraction modeling of a space relay experiment
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Optical system modeling is particularly important for simulation of laser beam propagation over large distances. This paper describes the diffraction modeling of the propagation of a laser beam between two points on the surface of the earth, using relay mirrors on one or more satellites. Because of the importance of the atmospheric and propagation effects, computer modeling is necessary to develop understanding of the first-order design parameters. Some of the significant design parameters are characterization of the adaptive mirror for the atmospheric aberration correction, size and finish of the beam expander, apertures of the relay mirror, and acceptable levels of jitter. An example of a propagating laser beam is presented, demonstrating the three-dimensional nature of this model.