Abstract

Two-color laser ranging systems can be used to determine the atmospheric delay by measuring the difference in propagation times between two optical pulses transmitted at two different wavelengths. In this paper, the performance of a cross-correlation technique for estimating the differential propagation time is analyzed by considering both speckle and shot noise. For the flat diffuse targets, the differential timing accuracy is highly dependent on the receiver bandwidth and the characteristics of the time-resolved speckle. At low signal levels, when the receiver bandwidth is chosen properly, the performance of the correlation estimator is comparable with that of the maximum-likelihood estimator. At high signal levels, however, speckle places a fundamental limit on the performance of the correlation estimator. For the cube-corner reflector arrays, timing performance is dominated by partially developed speckle. The differential propagation time cannot by resolved to better than the pulse widths of the received signals.

© 1986 Optical Society of America

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