In the context of the FrenchGerman space lidar mission MERLIN (MEthane Remote LIdar missioN) dedicated to the determination of the atmospheric methane content, an end-to-end mission simulator is being developed. In order to check whether the instrument design meets the performance requirements, simulations have to count all the sources of noise on the measurements like the optical energy variability induced by speckle. Speckle is due to interference as the lidar beam is quasi monochromatic. Speckle contribution to the error budget has to be estimated but also simulated. In this paper, the speckle theory is revisited and applied to MERLIN lidar and also to the DLR (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und Raumfahrt) demonstrator lidar CHARM-F. Results show: on the signal path, speckle noise depends mainly on the size of the illuminated area on ground; on the solar flux, speckle is fully negligible both because of the pixel size and the optical filter spectral width; on the energy monitoring path a decorrelation mechanism is needed to reduce speckle noise on averaged data. Speckle noises for MERLIN and CHARM-F can be simulated by Gaussian noises with only one random draw by shot separately for energy monitoring and signal paths.
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