The atmospheric propagation of laser radiation is of importance in a growing number of disciplines. These include optical communication, optical energy transmission (laser power beaming), satellite tracking and laser-based remote detection methods. The signal quality at long distances from the radiation source is determined by the laser characteristics and the effects of atmospheric turbulence on the laser radiation. These effects are investigated numerically and experimentally for relevant types of lasers.
In the studies on the propagation of laser radiation through the atmosphere, continuous wave lasers (milliwatts to multikilowatt), pulsed lasers (millijoule to multijoule) of different wavelengths and beam qualities are used on the optical test range. In addition to the variable transmissivity of the atmosphere due to different weather conditions, the influence of turbulence on the optical beam deflection and beam deformation are considered.
Numerical studies to describe atmospheric propagation accompany the experimental work. The simulation models are developed primarily internally and are continuously extended; they describe the turbulence behaviour of the atmosphere based on the turbulent phase screen method and use FFT methods for the calculations. Numerical methods and experimental studies complement one another in the description of propagation characteristics.