NASA's primary application for the proposed transmitter would be ocean bathymetry and underwater object detection. The compact size, rugged design, and efficient electrical-to-optical conversion of Bridger's proposed laser would make it ideal suited for a mobile ship, airborne, or even satellite platform. Due to larger scattering at shorter wavelengths, the 473 nm source would be favored over the traditional 532 nm source for most cloud and aerosol lidar applications. The 473 nm beam would also work well as a general purpose OPO pump beam especially for generating green to near-IR signal waves or into the SWIR spectral band. The former is an intermediate step towards generating the UV wavelengths used for measuring tropospheric ozone via differential absorption lidar, while the latter is useful for profiling other important greenhouse gases and pollutants such as CH4, CO2, H2O, CO, NO2, and many others. Finally the 946 nm fundamental source would be useful for water vapor lidar.
The proposed laser would be the most compact, high-power, solid-state blue laser source currently available. Within the lidar market there are many organizations that would be potential customers for an ocean penetrating blue lidar transmitter for bathymetry and underwater object detection: the Navy, NOAA, the EPA, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and the Coast Guard for instance. The delivered lidar system would provide the Navy with the capability to conduct rapid and widespread object detection beneath the ocean surface from an airborne platform. This will be an invaluable tool for searching for submarines, mines, and mapping the ocean floor. Bridger envisions a wide variety of additional applications for this laser including gas sensing lidar, hard-target ranging, ablation applications including mass spectrometry, nonlinear spectroscopy and as general purpose OPO pump. The proposed transmitter could easily be adapted to detect a host of gasses, most of which are detected in the short wave infrared and mid-infrared spectral regions which are well suited for a seeded OPO pumped either with the 946 or 473 nm beam.