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Optical Engineering

Segmented mirrors for atmospheric compensation
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Paper Abstract

An optical wavefront propagating through the atmosphere will be perturbed by local variations in the refractive index of the atmospheric gases. When accumulated over long optical path distances they will impart a spatial and temporally random distortion to the wavefront. These distortions have a characteristic spatial coherence length r0 and an atmospheric decorrelation time τ0. In directed energy applications, atmospheric distortions can reduce the peak target energy densities of larger diameter laser beams by orders of magnitude. The problem is not solved through the use of larger apertures; once the aperture size increases beyond one or two r0, the far-field spot remains constant in size. Hence, for large aperture systems, the overall performance is set by the spatial coherence of the atmosphere and not by the system's exit pupil.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 October 1990
PDF: 5 pages
Opt. Eng. 29(10) doi: 10.1117/12.55713
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 29, Issue 10
Show Author Affiliations
David G. Sandler, Thermo Electron Technologies Corp. (United States)


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