The proposed technology would increase the time for standalone fully-autonomous spacecraft navigation by improving attitude and position determination aligning with Space Systems Tier 3 Priorities: Technologies for Space Situational Awareness and Space Object Interactions, as well as Small Spacecraft and Enabling Technologies. These sensors can also be used for gravity-wave detection and tests of general relativity. NASA's needs for deep space missions would achieve substantial operational benefits from navigation systems that take advantage of the proposed fast light optical gyroscopes (FLOG) as a result of high-precision on-board autonomous navigation technology. FLOG addresses a critical needs for new technologies to meet challenges in NASA's Space Technology Roadmap Technology Area 05: Communications and Navigation Systems including minimization of mass, power and volume while increasing performance, avoiding navigation from becoming a constraint in planning and executing space missions, and eliminating Earth from the real time decision loop.
As generalized rotation sensors, ring gyros in general find application in a wide range of markets. They are used as motion sensing elements in platform stabilization systems. In both manned and unmanned aircraft system, they are critical components in the navigational systems. They find use in attitude and heading reference systems (AHRS) used in marine navigation. Potential customers in the navigation space include major players such as Honeywell, Draper, and Thales. Since the proposed design does not include any exotic optical components, such as an atomic vapor cell, it will readily lend itself to miniaturization, especially since the FLOG approach enhances the gyro sensitivity through a mechanism other than increasing the cavity size. With this added method for increasing gyrosensitivity, by about two orders of magnitude over the equivalent ring laser gyro, the possibility of detecting gradients in gravitational fields becomes possible. Besides enabling tests of general relativity, this capability could be used to detect subterranean geological features of interest in a number of industries.