Revolutionary Imaging: Air Force Contributions to Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics
AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB KIRTLAND AFB NM
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Why was there so much commotion over the release of Fugates guide star work He and his Air Force colleagues had done something revolutionary--they had begun to conquer the age-old problem of atmospheric turbulence causing distortion in light waves. Distorted light waves produced blurred rather than razor-sharp images of objects in space. Fugates laser guide star technique was a critical first step in the adaptive optics process that would eventually compensate distorted light by removing the effects of atmospheric turbulence, thus enabling high-resolution images. That was important to the military, which wanted to be able to take clear images of satellites, missiles, reentry vehicles, and space debris as part of its space situational awareness mission, and equally important to astronomers, who wanted ways to improve the image quality of planets, stars, galaxies, and other celestial bodies.