The limitations imposed by a turbulent atmosphere on photography of a planetary surface from a vehicle at high altitudes are considered. The atmosphere initially considered is that of the earth, since data are available on its characteristics. The correlation between modulation transfer function, minimum detectable element, and experimentally measured stellar scintillation indicates that the limiting resolution should be on the order of a few centimeters on earth. This is considerably lower than resolutions previously predicted from assumed atmospheric characteristics. The difference may arise from the fact that experimentally measured wind shears over thin atmospheric layers are greater than the values previously assumed. The standard deviation of length of the minimum detectable element is about ⅓ of its mean value, and does not appear to be a strong function of the time of year or location. The minimum detectable length on Mars is so small that it will probably never limit photographic reconnaissance of that planet.
H. R. HULETT, "Turbulence Limitations in Photographic Resolution of Planet Surfaces," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 57, 1335-1338 (1967)