Potential NASA applications of the proposed low-SWaP, UAV-borne methane IPDA sensor include identification and quantification of atmospheric methane sources and sinks on a finer spatial scale than currently possible, immediately valuable for climate model improvement and atmospheric sciences. Water vapor concentration can be readily added to such an instrument for further functional enhancement and utility. The single frequency Q-switched Er:YAG lasers developed in this effort will also be applicable to aerosol backscatter measurement and Doppler winds measurement applications. The emphasis on very compact and electrically efficient operation will enhance the potential of such lasers in numerous current and planned NASA missions. IPDA DIAL lidar advancements associated with the proposed work relate directly to transmitter laser, seed laser, transmitted energy monitoring and calibration, and associated photonic component requirements of NASA programs such as CO2 IPDA, ASCENDS, and LAS.
Potential non-NASA commercial applications are of great interest to Beyond Photonics in terms of low cost, compact DIAL product development, as evidenced in our use of company IRAD to further the proposed effort. We ultimately envision commercial development of small, rugged, compact differential absorption lidar (DIAL) sensors for airborne (UAV) methane and CO2 atmospheric constituent detection and characterization. The lasers and lidar technology proposed here will relate to development of compact high-efficiency remote sensing instruments for commercial and military use, including spectroscopy, aerosol backscatter measurements, and wind sensing.