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An experiment was conducted to study turbulence along a 149-km path between the Mauna Loa and Haleakala mountain tops using digital cameras and light-emitting diode (LED) beacons. Much of the path is over the ocean, and a large portion of the path is 3 km above sea level. On the Mauna Loa side, six LED beacons were placed in a roughly linear array with pair spacings from 7 to 62 m. From the Haleakala side, a pair of cameras separated by 83.8 cm observed these beacons. Turbulence along the path induces tilts on the wavefronts, which results in displacements of the LED spots in the images. The image motion is caused by unwanted noise sources such as camera platform motion. Differential motion between spots cancels much of this noise, and this differential motion is weighted by the turbulence along the path in different ways depending on the geometry between the sources and the cameras. A camera motion insensitive weighting function is developed to deal with this observational issue. A linear combination of these weighting functions is then used to generate a composite weighting function, which better rejects turbulence near the sources and receivers and is most sensitive to turbulence in the portion of the path out over the ocean. This technique is used to estimate turbulence in this region. The long range involved caused very strong scintillation in the image, which added new challenges to the data processing. A resulting estimate for Cn2 of 4  ×  10 −17  m − 2 / 3 is in good agreement with the Hufnagel–Valley HV5/7 model and the results of numerical weather modeling.


© The Author(s). Published by SPIE under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. (CC BY 4.0) Distribution or reproduction of this work in whole or in part requires full attribution of the original publication, including its DOI.

At time of publication, Joel Meoak, Brannon Elmore, and Thomas Kesler were also research staff contractors in the Department of Engineering Physics at AFIT.

Funding note: This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research and the Joint Directed Energy Technology Transition Office through a Multidisciplinary Research Initiative

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Optical Engineering