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18 October 1996 Performance evaluation of the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous laser rangefinder
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A direct-detection laser altimeter is one of five instruments supporting the one-year scientific investigation of the near-Earth asteroid, 433 Eros, the subject of the near-earth asteroid rendezvous (NEAR) mission. While orbiting Eros at an altitude of 50 km, the NEAR laser rangefinder will continuously sample Eros' surface. Evaluation of altimeter performance requires an understanding of pertinent asteroid characteristics, mission geometry, and rangefinder implementation of the Neyman- Pearson detection criterion. Analysis indicates performance margin of 9.8 dB at 50 km in the presence of speckle. The altimeter is a bistatic configuration that uses a 15 mJ/pulse Cr:Nd:YAG solid-state laser and 3.5-inch aperture Dall-Kirkham receiver telescope with low-noise, high-speed detection electronics. This paper presents pertinent mission requirements and highlights the altimeter design. Our analysis is described and results from altimeter testing are provided demonstrating 9 - 12 dB performance margin, in agreement with prediction.
© (1996) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Timothy D. Cole and Frederic M. Davidson "Performance evaluation of the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous laser rangefinder", Proc. SPIE 2811, Photonics for Space Environments IV, (18 October 1996);

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