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Demonstrating 24-hour continuous vertical monitoring of atmospheric optical turbulence

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Version 2 2023-04-06, 16:00
Version 1 2023-01-20, 17:02
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posted on 2023-04-06, 16:00 authored by Ryan Griffiths, James Osborn, Ollie Farley, Tim Butterley, Matthew J. Townson, Richard Wilson
We report what is believed to be the first example of fully continuous, 24-hour vertical monitoring of atmospheric optical turbulence. This is achieved using a novel instrument, the 24-hour Shack-Hartmann Image Motion Monitor (24hSHIMM). Optical turbulence is a fundamental limitation for applications such as free-space optical communications, where it limits the achievable bandwidth, and ground-based optical astronomy, restricting the observational precision. Knowledge of the turbulence enables us to select the best sites, design optical instrumentation and optimise the operation of ground-based optical systems. The 24hSHIMM estimates the vertical optical turbulence coherence length, time, angle and Rytov variance from the measurement of a four-layer vertical turbulence profile and a wind speed profile retrieved from meteorological forecasts. To illustrate our advance we show the values of these parameters recorded during a 35-hour, continuous demonstration of the instrument. Due to its portability and ability to work in stronger turbulence, the 24hSHIMM can also operate in urban locations, providing the field with a truly continuous, versatile turbulence monitor for all but the most demanding of applications.

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