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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Optical Airborne Tracker System (OATS)

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

The Optical Airborne Tracker System (OATS) is an airborne dual-axis optical tracking system capable of pointing at any sky location or ground target.  The objectives of the task are to develop a flight test system capable of withstanding an anticipated flight altitude of 30kft and efficiently couple direct solar, sky scattered, and ground reflected light into a fiber coupled spectroradiometer.

The primary objective of the project is to design, fabricate, and demonstrate a low cost, modular tracking system that’s capable of meeting air quality, land use, and ocean science airborne optical observation requirements.  A successful outcome of this technology maturation and risk reduction effort will be a flexible and modular system capable of flying on various aircraft as well as the software capable of controlling the operations of the tracker.

The key elements of the project work are:

1) The simplification of the airborne tracker design prototype.

2) Develop modularity of the tracker design such that it can be used with multiple instruments and aircraft.

3) The use of camera based target tracking, such as the sun, moon, or ground target. 

The wavelength range in which this technology is useful is from 250nm to 3microns.

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