19 September 2016 The fiber optic system for the advanced topographic laser altimeter system instrument (ATLAS)
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Abstract
The Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) Instrument has been in integration and testing over the past 18 months in preparation for the Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite – 2 (ICESat-2) Mission, scheduled to launch in 2017. ICESat-2 is the follow on to ICESat which launched in 2003 and operated until 2009. ATLAS will measure the elevation of ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice or the “cryosphere” (as well as terrain) to provide data for assessing the earth’s global climate changes. Where ICESat’s instrument, the Geo-Science Laser Altimeter (GLAS) used a single beam measured with a 70 m spot on the ground and a distance between spots of 170 m, ATLAS will measure a spot size of 10 m with a spacing of 70 cm using six beams to measure terrain height changes as small as 4 mm.[1] The ATLAS pulsed transmission system consists of two lasers operating at 532 nm with transmitter optics for beam steering, a diffractive optical element that splits the signal into 6 separate beams, receivers for start pulse detection and a wavelength tracking system. The optical receiver telescope system consists of optics that focus all six beams into optical fibers that feed a filter system that transmits the signal via fiber assemblies to the detectors. Also included on the instrument is a system that calibrates the alignment of the transmitted pulses to the receiver optics for precise signal capture. The larger electro optical subsystems for transmission, calibration, and signal receive, stay aligned and transmitting sufficiently due to the optical fiber system that links them together. The robust design of the fiber optic system, consisting of a variety of multi fiber arrays and simplex assemblies with multiple fiber core sizes and types, will enable the system to maintain consistent critical alignments for the entire life of the mission. Some of the development approaches used to meet the challenging optical system requirements for ATLAS are discussed here.
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Melanie N. Ott, Melanie N. Ott, W. Joe Thomes, W. Joe Thomes, Eleanya Onuma, Eleanya Onuma, Robert Switzer, Robert Switzer, Richard Chuska, Richard Chuska, Diana Blair, Diana Blair, Erich Frese, Erich Frese, Marc Matyseck, Marc Matyseck, "The fiber optic system for the advanced topographic laser altimeter system instrument (ATLAS)", Proc. SPIE 9981, Planetary Defense and Space Environment Applications, 99810C (19 September 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2238561; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2238561
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