Investigation of systematic effects in atmospheric microthermal probe data.
Roper, Daniel S.
Walters, Donald L.
Beland, Robert R.
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The propagation of electromagnetic radiation through the atmosphere is a crucial aspect of laser target acquisition and surveillance systems and is vital to the effective implementation of some Theater Missile Defense systems. Atmospheric turbulence degrades the image or laser beam quality along an optical path. During the past decade, the U.S. Air Force's Geophysics Directorate of Phillips Laboratory collected high speed differential temperature measurements of the atmospheric temperature structure parameter, Cj. 2 , and the related index of refraction structure parameter, Cn 2 . The stratospheric results show a 1-2 order of magnitude increase in day turbulence values compared to night. Resolving whether these results were real or an artifact of solar contamination is a critical Theater Missile Defense issue. This thesis analyzed the thermosonde data from an experimental program conducted by the Geophysics Directorate in December 1990 and found strong evidence of solar induced artifacts in the daytime thermal probe data. In addition, this thesis performed a theoretical analysis of the thermal response versus altitude of fine wire probes being used in a new thermosonde system under development at the Naval Postgraduate School. Experimental wind tunnel measurements were conducted to validate the analytical predictions.