Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




TECH SPACE
Laser radar illuminates the way to deep space
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Feb 23, 2012


Jena-Optronik prototype lidar, optimised for rendezvous and docking applications. Credits: ESA/Jena-Optronik.

This car was not snapped with a camera but scanned by a 3D imaging lidar, the laser equivalent of radar. ESA is developing the sensor as a navigation aid for exploring deep space.

Lidar stands for 'light detection and ranging', with a pulsed laser beam scanning targets by measuring the time it takes for the light to bounce back. The wavelength of light is so much shorter than that of radio waves - measured in billionths of a metre rather than centimetres - so lidar gives much more precise measurements.

Laser ranging is already used for rendezvous and docking in orbit. When ESA's ATV cargo ferry docks with the International Space Station it bounces laser beams off reflectors on the orbital outpost to judge the distance to within a couple of centimetres.

For missions deeper into our Solar System, ESA hopes to use 3D imaging lidar to build up a complete picture of targets such as a boulder-strewn surface.

This would be like a stereoscopic imager but it would also work in total darkness or blinding sunlight.

"The 3D imaging lidar we've been working on has three main potential applications," explains Joao Pereira Do Carmo, overseeing the project for ESA.

"The first is for the guidance, navigation and control of planetary landers, in particular in selecting a safe landing site.

"The second is for steering rovers on planetary surfaces, and the third is for docking in planetary orbit. That would be essential for the proposed Mars Sample Return Mission, for example, when the ascent module carrying material off the martian surface will have to be tracked and captured by its mother craft waiting in orbit.

"Terrestrial imaging lidars already exist, typically used for scanning buildings or industrial sites, but they are much too bulky for use in space.

"The challenge is to produce a new class of imaging lidar, much smaller and needing less power."

Reflecting the technical difficulties involved, separate designs were developed in parallel by two consortia, one led by Jena-Optronik in Jena, Germany and the other by ABSL in Culham, UK.

The shoebox-sized imaging lidars rely on a steerable scan mirror that flicks the laser beam across the target, with a highly sensitive light detector capable of measuring the returning beams from up to several kilometres away.

The two designs aim at different guidance and navigation applications. The German-led unit demonstrates a future rendezvous sensor, while the British-led design is intended to help a lander touch down safely on a planet, detecting and avoiding hazards.

The Imaging Lidar Technology project was supported through ESA's Basic Technology Research Programme aimed at prototyping promising new engineering concepts.

Building on this progress, a landing lidar is now being designed for ESA's Lunar Lander, planned to touch down at the lunar south pole in 2019.

The engineers are also looking at ways of making the lidars even smaller perhaps by using new types of detectors and micro-mechanical optical mirrors.

"It is expected that we can reduce the mass and power consumptions of current commercial imaging lidar systems by at least 70%," Joao concludes.

.


Related Links
ABSL Power
Jena Optronik
Space Technology News - Applications and Research






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TECH SPACE
Lockheed Martin Foliage Penetrating Reconnaissance Radar Deployed
Fort Lauderdale, FL (SPX) Feb 23, 2012
After successfully completing operational demonstrations, Lockheed Martin's [NYSE: LMT] penetrating radar capable of detecting objects that are buried, camouflaged or concealed under dense foliage was deployed to support U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Lockheed Martin's Tactical Reconnaissance and Counter-Concealment-Enabled Radar, TRACER, will support SOUTHCOM missions in counter-terror ... read more


TECH SPACE
SD-built camera spots tiny shifts on moon

Back to the Moon A Modern Redux

X-rays illuminate the interior of the Moon

NASA Spacecraft Reveals Recent Geological Activity on the Moon

TECH SPACE
Opportunity For More Doppler Tracking And Imaging At Cape York

Mars rocks indicate relatively recent quakes, volcanism, on Red Planet

Dusty Mars Rover's Self-Portrait

Rock Studies Continue for Opportunity

TECH SPACE
Technology and creativity go "full spectrum" at TED

Cosmonaut Testing at Star City Deceptively Simple

Stark warning emerges from science summit

Glenn: I don't think of myself as a hero

TECH SPACE
Launch of China's manned spacecraft Shenzhou-9 scheduled

Shenzhou 9 To Carry 3 Astronauts To Tiangong-1 Space Station

China to launch spacecraft in June: report

Is Shenzhou Unsafe?

TECH SPACE
Fifth ATV named after Georges Lemaitre

Space station panel installation delayed

Russian cosmonauts begin ISS spacewalk

Advanced Communications Testbed for Space Station

TECH SPACE
Aiming For An Open Window To Launch Into Space

Sea Launch on Track to Loft Intelsat 19

NuSTAR Mated to its Rocket

Rocket to be launched from Poker Flat Research Range

TECH SPACE
A Planetary Exo-splosion

Extending the Habitable Zone for Red Dwarf Stars

Earth siblings can be different!

Hubble Reveals a New Class of Extrasolar Planet

TECH SPACE
"Negative refraction" opens avenue to new products and industries

Thousands protest in Malaysia over rare earths plant

Nokia eyes China in smartphone comeback push

Asian mobile giants go ultra fast in race for smartphone pie




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement