The NASA Psyche mission is set to explore an asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter with a launch date in 2022. Onboard the Psyche spacecraft is experimental demonstrator technology that will allow scientists to explore the capabilities of optical communications – a program called Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC) led by Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). DSOC seeks to improve communications performance by developing a space-based Flight Laser Transceiver (FLT) and a ground-based transceiver to enable photon-efficient communications with equipment in deep space. An integral part to this FLT system is a high-efficiency photon-counting camera (PCC) that is able to detect both the 1064nm uplink/beacon laser photons and 1550nm downlink laser photons with low background noise, and is capable of withstanding the rigors of space-travel. The paper details the characterization of several asynchronous Geiger-Mode Avalanche Photodiode (GmAPD) arrays developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory for use in the PCC- specifically evaluating the temperature dependence of background noise, photon detection efficiency at 1064nm and 1550nm wavelengths, pixel lifetime testing, and angle of acceptance measurements. The results of this characterization are used to determine the nominal conditions for the device to operate in while in flight to maintain an efficient link with the ground-based transceiver.
Detection and enumeration of rare circulating cells in mice are important problems in many areas of preclinical biomedical research. Recently, we developed a new method termed “diffuse fluorescence flow cytometry” (DFFC) that uses diffuse photons to increase the blood sampling volume and sensitivity versus existing in vivo flow cytometry methods. In this work, we describe a new DFFC prototype with approximately an order-of-magnitude improvement in sensitivity compared to our previous work. This sensitivity improvement is enabled by a number of technical innovations, which include a method for the removal of motion artifacts (allowing interrogation of mouse hindlegs that was less optically attenuating versus the tail) and improved collection optics and signal preamplification. We validated our system first in limb mimicking optical flow phantoms with fluorescent microspheres and then in nude mice with fluorescently labeled mesenchymal stem cells at injected concentrations of 5×10 3 cells/mL . In combination, these improvements resulted in an overall cell counting sensitivity of about 1 cell/mL or better in vivo.