The European Space Agency is developing its first spaceborne LIDAR for global monitoring of wind velocities. ALADIN, to be launched on board ADMAeolus in 2008, is a pulsed Nd:YAG laser with about 120 mJ of pulse energy at 355 nm and a repetition rate of 100 Hz during bursts. Within the projected mission duration of three years, this gives a lifetime requirement of close to 5 billion pulses.
While laser-induced damage thresholds of optics in vacuum (possibly contaminated by small amounts of organic compounds) can differ from atmospheric conditions, their damage behaviour is generally poorly understood. The European Space Agency has therefore established a test campaign to measure the power handling of all the instrument optics with several European laboratories participating.
In the Optics and Opto-Electronics laboratory at ESTEC, a laser-induced damage threshold (LIDT) test facility has been set up with a 50 Hz Nd:YAG test laser. The pulse energy is 700 mJ at 1064 nm. This allows us to recreate the laser pulse conditions to which the ALADIN optics will be exposed. The flattop beam profile of the test laser irradiates the optics with uniform fluences and relatively large spots (up to 1mm across) at damaging intensities.
Damage tests are performed with up to 1 million pulses per test spot according to the S-on-1 test ISO-11254 standard, requiring typically 10 days to test one sample. With such extended tests, we can predict the laser-induced damage threshold over the ALADIN lifetime with improved accuracy.
We investigated the formation of UV laser induced deposits on uncoated and coated fused silica optics under vacuum
conditions in presence of outgassing materials. As contamination samples epoxy, silicone and polyurethane containing
materials were used. To realize low partial pressures of the contaminants in the gas phase they were slightly heated
(40°C). The formation of the depositions was monitored in situ and online by detecting the fluorescence emission of
the deposits, excited by the UV laser beam. The influence of different optical coatings on the deposit formation was
studied. By analysing the surface profiles of the deposits, growth rates were estimated. Time-of-flight secondary ion
mass spectroscopy was used for chemical characterization of the deposits.
Spaceborne lidars carry much promise for Earth observation and interplanetary missions to measure atmospheric parameters (wind velocity, optical extinction or species concentrations) and planet topologies. As the first European lidar mission, the European Space Agency is developing a Doppler wind lidar, ALADIN, to be launched on board ADM-Aeolus in 2008. ALADIN is a pulsed laser, emitting about 120 mJ of pulse energy in the UV. The mission duration is envisaged to be three years, which corresponds to several billion emitted pulses, thus imposing very stringent criteria on the longevity of the system. Laser-induced damage is one of the most significant issues here, in particular since laser-induced damage in space vacuum is still poorly understood. The European Space Agency has therefore established a test campaign to measure the power handling of all the instrument optics with laboratories in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and France participating. Measurements are conducted at three wavelengths (1064nm, 532nm and 355nm) and with the introduction of several contaminants. The presentation covers laser-induced damage risk mitigation, the ESA test campaign and some test results.