Abstract

Adaptive optics system (AOS) performance is a function of the system design, seeing conditions, and light level of the wave-front beacon. It is desirable to optimize the controllable parameters in an AOS to maximize some measure of performance. For this optimization to be useful, it is necessary that a set of image-quality metrics be developed that vary monotonically with the AOS performance under a wide variety of imaging environments. Accordingly, as conditions change, one can be confident that the computed metrics dictate appropriate system settings that will optimize performance. Three such candidate metrics are presented. The first is the Strehl ratio; the second is a novel metric that modifies the Strehl ratio by integration of the modulus of the average system optical transfer function to a noise-effective cutoff frequency at which some specified image spectrum signal-to-noise ratio level is attained; and the third is simply the cutoff frequency just mentioned. It is shown that all three metrics are correlated with the rms error (RMSE) between the measured image and the associated diffraction-limited image. Of these, the Strehl ratio and the modified Strehl ratio exhibit consistently high correlations with the RMSE across a broad range of conditions and system settings. Furthermore, under conditions that yield a constant average system optical transfer function, the modified Strehl ratio can still be used to delineate image quality, whereas the Strehl ratio cannot.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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