Abstract

Maximum-likelihood (ML) receivers are frequently used to optimize the timing performance of laser-ranging and laser-altimetry systems in the presence of shot and speckle noise. We have used a Monte Carlo method to examine ML-receiver performance with return signals in the 10–5000-photoelectron (pe) range. The simulations were performed for shot noise only and for shot and speckle noise. The results agree with previous theory for signal strengths greater than about 100 pe’s but show that the theory can significantly underestimate timing errors for weaker received signals. Sharp high-bandwidth features in the detected signals are shown to improve timing performance only if their signal levels are greater than 4–5 pe’s.

© 1987 Optical Society of America

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