A coherent Doppler lidar has been developed to address NASA’s need for a high-performance, compact, and cost-effective velocity and altitude sensor onboard its landing vehicles. Future robotic and manned missions to solar system bodies require precise ground-relative velocity vector and altitude data to execute complex descent maneuvers and safe, soft landing at a pre-designated site. This lidar sensor, referred to as a Navigation Doppler Lidar (NDL), meets the required performance of the landing missions while complying with vehicle size, mass, and power constraints. Operating from up to four kilometers altitude, the NDL obtains velocity and range precision measurements reaching 2 cm/sec and 2 meters, respectively, dominated by the vehicle motion. Terrestrial aerial vehicles will also benefit from NDL data products as enhancement or replacement to GPS systems when GPS is unavailable or redundancy is needed. The NDL offers a viable option to aircraft navigation in areas where the GPS signal can be blocked or jammed by intentional or unintentional interference. The NDL transmits three laser beams at different pointing angles toward the ground to measure range and velocity along each beam using a frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) technique. The three line-of-sight measurements are then combined in order to determine the three components of the vehicle velocity vector and its altitude relative to the ground. This paper describes the performance and capabilities that the NDL demonstrated through extensive ground tests, helicopter flight tests, and onboard an autonomous rocket-powered test vehicle while operating in closedloop with a guidance, navigation, and control (GN and C) system.
Farzin Amzajerdian, Glenn D. Hines, Diego F. Pierrottet, Bruce W. Barnes, Larry B. Petway, and John M. Carson, "Demonstration of coherent Doppler lidar for navigation in GPS-denied environments," Proc. SPIE 10191, Laser Radar Technology and Applications XXII, 1019102 (Presented at SPIE Defense + Security: April 11, 2017; Published: 5 May 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2266972.
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