Potential NASA applications for the lower-cost, higher-reliability autonomous laser and lidar alignment technology include the existing NASA LaRC DAWN lidar system (which currently suffers from thermally-induced environmental system misalignment that would readily be addressed by this technology with very low impact on existing architecture) and future generations of this wind measurement lidar system. The technology can be easily extended to other wavelengths (e.g. 1.55-1.6 um), which could directly benefit NASA programs aimed at atmospheric CO2 or CH4 measurement using lidar systems and other laser remote sensing efforts where long-duration unattended operation is key. Space-based applications are of particular interest.
Potential non-NASA, commercial applications for the lower-cost, higher reliability autonomous coherent laser radar sensors that would be realized from the proposed work include, use of such systems in wind energy management and site location applications; at airports for detection of hazardous aircraft wake vortices and wind shear, increasing airport operating efficiency; hard-target sensing, identification, and imaging applications. The auto-alignment concept will find many commercial applications wherever two or more beams need to be aligned to each other, such as is often required in non-linear optics, IR spectroscopy applications, and single-mode fiber beam combination and management.