From Event: SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications, 2016
The sole instrument on NASA’s ICESat-2 spacecraft shown in Figure 1 will be the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS)1. The ATLAS is a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) instrument; it measures the time of flight of the six transmitted laser beams to the Earth and back to determine altitude for geospatial mapping of global ice. The ATLAS laser beam is split into 6 main beams by a Diffractive Optical Element (DOE) that are reflected off of the earth and imaged by an 800 mm diameter Receiver Telescope Assembly (RTA). The RTA is composed of a 2-mirror telescope and Aft Optics Assembly (AOA) that collects and focuses the light from the 6 probe beams into 6 science fibers. Each fiber optic has a field of view on the earth that subtends 83 micro Radians. The light collected by each fiber is detected by a photomultiplier and timing related to a master clock to determine time of flight and therefore distance. The collection of the light from the 6 laser spots projected to the ground allows for dense cross track sampling to provide for slope measurements of ice fields. NASA LIDAR instruments typically utilize telescopes that are not diffraction limited since they function as a light collector rather than imaging function. The more challenging requirements of the ATLAS instrument require better performance of the telescope at the ¼ wave level to provide for improved sampling and signal to noise. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) contracted the build of the telescope to General Dynamics (GD). GD fabricated and tested the flight and flight spare telescope and then integrated the government supplied AOA for testing of the RTA before and after vibration qualification. The RTA was then delivered to GSFC for independent verification and testing over expected thermal vacuum conditions. The testing at GSFC included a measurement of the RTA wavefront error and encircled energy in several orientations to determine the expected zero gravity figure, encircled energy, back focal length and plate scale. In addition, the science fibers had to be aligned to within 10 micro Radians of the projected laser spots to provide adequate margin for operations on-orbit. This paper summarizes the independent testing and alignment of the fibers performed at the GSFC.
John Hagopian, Matthew Bolcar, John Chambers, Allen Crane, Bente Eegholm, Tyler Evans, Samuel Hetherington, Eric Mentzell, Patrick L. Thompson, Luis Ramos-Izquierdo, and David Vaughnn, "Advanced topographic laser altimeter system (ATLAS) receiver telescope assembly (RTA) and transmitter alignment and test," Proc. SPIE 9972, Earth Observing Systems XXI, 997207 (Presented at SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications: August 30, 2016; Published: 19 September 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2240241.
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