Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Steven T. Fiorino, PhD


ATL scientists need to develop a full understanding of the interaction effects between a high-energy laser beam and the atmosphere through which it propagates. Achieving this understanding is important for many reasons. In particular, the high cost of DE weapons systems makes each propagation event expensive. Having an understanding of the atmosphere in which a high-energy laser propagates will increase efficiency and effectiveness of the ATL weapon system, which in turn will decrease cost of operation. A tool that allows for the ATL war-fighter to determine the atmospheric effects on laser propagation currently does not exist. This study creates a stepping-stone toward creating a High Energy Laser Tactical Decision Aid (HELTDA) in which the war-fighter will be able to determine the effectiveness of the ATL weapon system with accuracy in order to maximize efficiency in a specific environment. Using the High Energy Laser End-to-End Simulation (HELEEOS) software, comparisons are made across various atmospheric factors. These factors consist of a variety of turbulence and wind profiles, aerosol effects, time of day, clouds and rain, and relative humidity, which are compared for summer and winter for a specific mid-latitude geographic location. In addition, the atmospheric factors run in HELEEOS are used to determine and characterize the relevant attenuating factors of extinction and thermal blooming, which are inferred by the different engagement scenarios tested. The results illustrate the three attenuation factors of high energy laser propagation: optical turbulence, extinction, and thermal blooming. In this study, the most significant attenuation factor is thermal blooming. Extinction is a significant attenuator as well, however, not to the degree of thermal blooming. Optical turbulence proved to be a negligible attenuator for increasingly vertical engagements. This is especially true for ATL engagements, which are generally limited to approximately 10km in slant range. The seasonal and time of day weather effects are also at times significant.

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