Abstract

A statistical model for the return signal in a coherent lidar is derived from the fundamental principles of atmospheric scattering and turbulent propagation. The model results in a three-parameter probability distribution for the coherent signal-to-noise ratio in the presence of atmospheric turbulence and affected by target speckle. We consider the effects of amplitude and phase fluctuations, in addition to local oscillator shot noise, for both passive receivers and those employing active modal compensation of wavefront phase distortion. We obtain exact expressions for statistical moments for lidar fading and evaluate the impact of various parameters, including the ratio of receiver aperture diameter to the wavefront coherence diameter, the speckle effective area, and the number of modes compensated.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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