Abstract

As a finite cross-section laser beam propagates through the atmosphere, the beam spreads due to both diffraction and atmospheric turbulence effects. Using turbulence theory valid in both weak and strong optical turbulence regimes, a relationship between atmospheric beam spread and the resulting return power for an optical system and the refractive-index structure parameter or Cn2 can be established. A technique for estimating the path-averaged Cn2 using a laser-and-corner-cube system based on this relationship is described. Experimental results using near-infrared laser wavelengths show good agreement between theoretical predictions and scintillometer-measured Cn2 values for near-ground line-of-sight propagation paths.

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