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This paper illustrates the challenges imposed by the atmospheric channel on the design of a terrestrial laser communication link. The power loss due to scattering effect is described using the Kim/Kruse scattering model while the effect and the penalty imposed by atmospheric turbulence is highlighted by considering the Bit Error Rate (BER) of an On-Off Keying modulated link in an optical Poisson channel. The power loss due to thick fog can measure over 100 dB/km while snow and rain result in much lower attenuation.
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