Abstract

The Rytov theory is applied to find the wave structure function of a laser beam transmitted from one satellite to another and propagating through the turbulent atmosphere. The phase-screen approximation is used. Taking into account refractive-index anisotropy, outer scale, and atmospheric mean-refraction defocusing, we provide expressions of the wave structure function for a spherical wave. The width and time of coherence at the receiver are evaluated. Expression for the beam spread is found using the extended Huygens–Fresnel principle, and beam wander is assessed. Beam wander occurs only for very narrow beams. Links involving low-Earth-orbit and geosynchronous satellites are studied as examples. Finally, conditions where optical tracking is perturbed by the atmosphere are examined.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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