Design and performance simulations for an airborne DIAL system for long-range remote sensing applications
The U.S. Air Force Phillips Laboratory is evaluating the feasibility of long-standoff-range remote sensing of gaseous species present in trace amounts in the atmosphere. To date, the Phillips Laboratory program has been concerned with the preliminary design and performance analysis of a commercially available CO(subscript 2) laser-based DIAL system operating from mountain-top-observatory and airborne platform and more recently with long-range ground testing using a 21.8 km slant path from 3.05 km ASL to sea level as the initial steps in the design and development of an airborne system capability. Straightforward scaling of the performance of a near-term technology direct-detection LIDAR system with propagation range to a topographic target and with the average atmospheric absorption coefficient along the path has been performed. Results indicate that useful airborne operation of such a system should be possible for slant path ranges between 20 km and 50 km, depending upon atmospheric transmission at the operating wavelengths of the (superscript 13)C(superscript 16)O(subscript 2) source. This paper describes the design of the airborne system which will be deployed on the Phillips Laboratory NC-135 research aircraft for DIAL system performance tests at slant ranges of 20 km to 50 km, scheduled for the near future. Performance simulations for the airborne tests will be presented and related to performance obtained during initial ground-based tests.