We present a detailed investigation of different methods of the characterization of atmospheric turbulence with the adaptive optics systems of the W. M. Keck Observatory. The main problems of such a characterization are the separation of instrumental and atmospheric effects and the accurate calibration of the devices involved. Therefore we mostly describe the practical issues of the analysis. We show that two methods, the analysis of differential image motion structure functions and the Zernike decomposition of the wave-front phase, produce values of the atmospheric coherence length <i>r</i><sub>0</sub> that are in excellent agreement with results from long-exposure images. The main error source is the calibration of the wave-front sensor. Values determined for the outer scale ℒ<sub>0</sub> are consistent between the methods and with typical ℒ<sub>0</sub> values found at other sites, that is, of the order of tens of meters.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
(010.1080) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Active or adaptive optics
(010.1330) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric turbulence
(010.7350) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Wave-front sensing
Matthias Schöck, David Le Mignant, Gary A. Chanan, Peter L. Wizinowich, and Marcos A. van Dam, "Atmospheric Turbulence Characterization with the Keck Adaptive Optics Systems. I. Open-Loop Data," Appl. Opt. 42, 3705-3720 (2003)