Worldwide Uncertainty Assessments of Ladar and Radar Signal-To-Noise Ratio Performance for Diverse Low Altitude Atmospheric Environments

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In this study of atmospheric effects on laser ranging and detection (ladar) and radar systems, the parameter space is explored using the Air Force Institute of Technology Center for Directed Energy's (AFIT/CDE) High Energy Laser End-to-End Operational Simulation (HELEEOS) parametric one-on-one engagement level model. The expected performance of ladar systems is assessed at a representative wavelength of 1.557 µm at a number of widely dispersed land and maritime locations worldwide. Radar system performance is assessed at 95 GHz and 250 GHz. Scenarios evaluated include both down looking oblique and vertical engagement geometries over ranges up to 3000 meters in which clear air aerosols and thin layers of fog, locally heavy rain, and low stratus cloud types are expected to occur. Seasonal and boundary layer variations are considered to determine optimum employment techniques to exploit or defeat the environmental conditions. Each atmospheric particulate/obscurant/hydrometeor is evaluated based on its wavelength-dependent forward and off-axis scattering characteristics and absorption effects on system interrogation. Results are presented in the form of worldwide plots of notional signal to noise ratio. The ladar and 95 GHz system types exhibit similar SNR performance for forward oblique clear air operation. 1.557 µm ladar performs well for vertical geometries in the presence of ground fog, but has no near-horizontal performance under such meteorological conditions. It also has no performance if low altitude stratus is present. 95 GHz performs well for both the fog and stratus layer cases, for both vertical and forward oblique geometries. The 250 GHz radar system is heavily impacted by water vapor absorption in all scenarios studied; however it is not as strongly affected by clouds and fog as the 1.557 µm ladar. Locally heavy rain will severely limit ladar system performance at these wavelengths. However, under heavy rain conditions ladar outperforms both radar systems. © 2013 SPIE


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Journal of Applied Remote Sensing