A satellite-based UV-DIAL measurement system would allow continuous global monitoring of ozone concentration in the upper atmosphere. However such systems remain difficult to implement because aerosol-scattering return signals for satellite-based lidars are very weak. A suitable system must produce high-energy UV pulses at multiple
wavelengths with very high efficiency. For example, a nanosecond system operating at 10 Hz must generate approximately 1 J per pulse at 308-320 nm. An efficient space-qualified wavelength-agile system based on a single UV source that can meet this requirement is probably not available using current laser technology. As an alternative, we're pursuing a multi-source approach employing all-solid-state modules that individually generate 300-320 nm light with pulse energies in the range of 50-200 mJ, with transform-limited bandwidths and good beam quality. Pulses from the individual sources can be incoherently summed to obtain the required single-pulse energy. These sources use sum-frequency mixing of the 532 nm second harmonic of an Nd:YAG pump laser with 731-803 nm light derived from a recently-developed, state-of-the-art, nanosecond optical parametric oscillator. Two source configurations are under development, one using extra-cavity sum-frequency mixing, and the other intra-cavity sum-frequency mixing. In either configuration, we hope to obtain sum-frequency mixing efficiency approaching 60% by carefully matching the spatial and temporal properties of the laser and OPO pulses. This ideal balance of green and near-IR photons requires an injection-seeded Nd:YAG pump-laser with very high beam quality, and an OPO exhibiting unusually high conversion efficiency and exceptional signal beam quality. The OPO employs a singly-resonant high-Fresnel-number image-rotating self-injection-seeded nonplanar-ring cavity that achieves pump depletion > 65% and produces signal beams with M2 ≈ 3 at pulse energies exceeding 50 mJ. Pump beam requirements can be met in the laboratory using a commercial Nd:YAG laser system, but only after extensive modifications.