Abstract

Recent studies have shown that the use of predetection processing can greatly improve the quality of images formed through atmospheric turbulence. It is generally assumed that the object to be imaged lies within a single isoplanatic patch, and it is recognized that the angular subtense of the isoplanatic patch may be quite small, comparable to the seeing limit. In this paper the use of predetection processing for objects which comprise many isoplanatic elements is considered. It is shown that an atmosphere–lens system behaves macroscopically as though it consisted microscopically of a collection of uncorrelated scatterers with random scattering strengths which contribute image components with varying spatial and spatial-frequency displacements. In communication theory such systems are referred to as wide-sense stationary uncorrelated scatter (WSSUS) channels and are characterized by a macroscopic scattering function. The macroscopic scattering function for the atmosphere is derived and used to show that under typical turbulence-strength conditions the seeing limit can resolve the isoplanatic patch. Thus the fields from different isoplanatic patches of an extended object may be separated in the image plane of an objective lens and processed individually to obtain a diffraction-limited image.

© 1976 Optical Society of America

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