Fibertek is working closely with NASA LaRC and the Earth Sciences Technology Office (ESTO) to develop reliable, efficient laser sources meeting the requirements for advanced instruments for remote sensing of the Earth's atmosphere on a global scale. The data provided by these sensors is critical in supporting and validating climate modeling. The novel near infrared laser with frequency conversion will enable lidar systems to be based initially on research aircraft and high-altitude UAVs for global sensing of the atmospheric water vapor and methane. The LaRC/ESTO HALO instrument planned for initial deployment in 2016 is an example of an opportunity for transition of the new technology into a fielded system. We anticipate partnering with NASA on future IIPs, ACT and EV programs to fully develop the high-performance systems built around the laser transmitter delivered under this SBIR program.
Long-range lidar systems are entering production in all branches of the military. Increasingly these active systems require higher power for greater range and sensitivity. The requirement for eye safety dictates that these 3D imaging and range finding systems operate in the near infrared between 1450 and 1700 nm. The Er:YAG source with fundamental wavelength at 1645 nm developed under this SBIR program is well matched to requirements of planned 3D imaging lidars and rangefinders. With average power greater than 10 W, diffraction-limited beam quality and nanosecond pulse width, the proposed laser system has high utility for lidar systems for aircraft, ship and ground vehicle installation. Space-based lidar systems for DoD are also in the planning stages, and will benefit from the availability of the technology being developed under this program.