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Long-range optical imaging applications are typically hindered by atmospheric turbulence. The effect of turbulence on an imaging system can manifest itself as an image blur effect usually quantified by the phase distortions present in the system. The blurring effect can be understood on the basis of the measured strength of atmospheric optical turbulence along the propagation path and its impacts on phase perturbation statistics within the imaging system. One method for obtaining these measurements is by the use of a dynamically ranged Rayleigh beacon system that exploits strategically varied beacon ranges along the propagation path, effectively obtaining estimates of the aberrations affecting an optical imaging system. We developed a method for extracting tomographic turbulence strength estimations from a dynamically ranged Rayleigh beacon system that uses a Shack–Hartmann sensor as the phase measurement device. The foundation for extracting tomographic information from strategically range-varied beacon measurements obtained in rapid sequence is presented along with modeled example cases for typical turbulence scenarios. Additionally, the processing algorithm was used to simulate identification of isolated strong turbulence layers. We present the chosen processing algorithm’s foundation and provide discussion of the utility of this algorithm as an atmospheric turbulence profiling methodology.


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Optical Engineering