Three phenomena characterizing the propagation of laser light through a turbulent atmosphere have been analyzed for the case of propagation of a laser beam from an aircraft to a flying target. These phenomena degrade the performance of an adaptive optics system intended to compensate the wavefront distortions produced by the turbulence. The first phenomenon is an anisoplanatic effect caused by using a distributed beacon source to sample the turbulence path that the laser propagates through. The second phenomenon is due to the motion of the turbulence between the time the beacon light samples it, and the time the compensated beam propagates through it. The third phenomenon is scintillation at the aim-point, including the effect of finite aperture size, and treating the focused beam geometry.

© 1992 Optical Society of America

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