From Event: SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications, 2016
Laser ranging to satellites (SLR) in earth orbit is an established technology used for geodesy, fundamental science and precise orbit determination. A combined active and passive optical measurement system using a single telescope mount is presented which performs precise ranging measurements of retro reflector equipped objects in low earth orbit (LEO). The German Aerospace Center (DLR) runs an observatory in Stuttgart where a system has been assembled completely from commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components. The visible light directed to the tracking camera is used to perform angular measurements of objects under investigation. This is done astrometrically by comparing the apparent target position with cataloged star positions. First successful satellite laser ranging was demonstrated recently using an optical fiber directing laser pulses onto the astronomical mount. The transmitter operates at a wavelength of 1064 nm with a repetition rate of 3 kHz and pulse energy of 25 μJ. A motorized tip/tilt mount allows beam steering of the collimated beam with μrad accuracy. The returning photons reflected from the object in space are captured with the tracking telescope. A special low aberration beam splitter unit was designed to separate the infrared from visible light. This allows passive optical closed loop tracking and operation of a single photon detector for time of flight measurements at a single telescope simultaneously. The presented innovative design yields to a compact and cost effective but very precise ranging system which allows orbit determination.
P. Wagner, D. Hampf, F. Sproll, T. Hasenohr, L. Humbert, J. Rodmann, and W. Riede, "Detection and laser ranging of orbital objects using optical methods," Proc. SPIE 9977, Remote Sensing System Engineering VI, 99770D (Presented at SPIE Optical Engineering + Applications: September 01, 2016; Published: 19 September 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2236919.
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