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6 October 2011 Role of single photon detection in pulse laser based optical navigation
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We are reporting on research, development, and operational results of the photon counting detectors that are being developed in our lab for ground laser ranging and space missions related to laser ranging, optical navigation or precise time transfer by laser pulses. The detector is based on silicon avalanche photodiode operated in a special mode with single photon detection capability in optical wavelength region. Routinely used wavelength is 532 nm, but any below 1.2 microns can be used. The detection chip is controlled by a dedicated circuit. The circuit allows biasing and active quenching of detection structure. The bias is controlled by optional external gate. The ground version of detector is optimized for an precision time tagging of an incoming laser pulse in order of several picoseconds and for high dynamical range of incoming optical signal. The space versions of detectors are optimized for an on-board detection and precision time tagging of an incoming laser pulse. The photon counting approach advantages will be discussed for several time of flight application mainly in order to reduce the systematic biases as much as possible. The optical receiver concept and experiment results in satellite laser ranging and laser time transfer will be presented focused on result overlapping to other optical techniques. Some new application and instrumentation to provide one-way ranging over planetary distances will be discussed.
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Josef Blazej and Ivan Prochazka "Role of single photon detection in pulse laser based optical navigation", Proc. SPIE 8187, Technologies for Optical Countermeasures VIII, 81870J (6 October 2011);

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