We describe an approach to the computation of photon returns from mesospheric sodium beacons excited by laser pulse trains and discuss as specific examples the required numbers of photons for adaptive-optical compensation of atmospheric turbulence. Computed photon return signals are compared with reported measurements for pulses that are long, short, or comparable to the D2 radiative lifetime (16 ns). Analytical approximations in good agreement with the numerical computations are derived. The results are consistent with experimental data for the different pulse durations.
© 1998 Optical Society of America
(010.1080) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Active or adaptive optics
(010.1330) Atmospheric and oceanic optics : Atmospheric turbulence
(110.6770) Imaging systems : Telescopes
(140.3430) Lasers and laser optics : Laser theory
(350.1260) Other areas of optics : Astronomical optics
Peter W. Milonni, Robert Q. Fugate, and John M. Telle, "Analysis of measured photon returns from sodium beacons," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 15, 217-233 (1998)