Besides being useful for detecting present and past life in extra-terrestrial environments, the laser can be used, especially with its small foot print, on the lander/orbiter to provide ranging and imaging for autonomous landing and precision rendezvous to other satellites. NASA remote sensing and LiDAR applications require compact, efficient, reliable, moderate-energy, nanosecond-pulsed lasers. These missions require improved precision technology compared with previously flown LiDAR technologies as well as greatly reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) given the resource-constrained class of missions likely to use this capability. Missions to solar system bodies must meet increasingly ambitious objectives requiring highly reliable soft and precision landing, hazard avoidance, topography mapping, autonomous rendezvous to other satellites, etc. Robotic missions to the Moon and Mars demand landing at pre-designated sites of high scientific value near hazardous terrain features, such as escarpments, craters, slopes, and rocks. Given the high sensitivity of launch requirements to SWaP considerations and to reliability, we feel that the proposed laser source is uniquely positioned for elemental analysis as well as LiDAR remote sensing and autonomous landing based missions. Other NASA mission profiles or applications that would benefit from generically small, light-weight, low power laser sources would be equally well served.
When a nonlinear crystal that generates UV light is removed, the ultra-compact laser source can produce wavelengths of 1 um or 0.5 um which find applications in lidar to map and image objects; a narrow laser-beam can map physical features with very high resolution. It can target a wide range of materials, including non-metallic objects, rocks, rain, chemical compounds, aerosols, clouds, and even single molecules. In particular, the 0.5-um wavelength penetrates water easily and is useful for bathymetry measurements in shallow water. The proposed laser can be used in the automotive safety and navigation, geography, law enforcement, meteorology, mining, robotics, and wind farm markets. The proposed UV source at 266nm would have applications for the military for imaging through smoke, dust, smog, and brownouts. Very small form-factor UV source designs may also offer opportunity for free space communication. Other applications are in mass and Raman spectroscopy, the food and drug industry, material processing, ultraviolet curing, photolithography, medical services, spectral analysis, scientific research, disinfection, decontamination of surfaces and water, protein analysis, DNA sequencing, (DNA absorption has a peak at 260nm), forensic analysis and more. With slight modification the laser can generate eye safe wavelengths. The Department of Defense has a constant need to advance the state of the art in the soldier-carried range finders that operate in eye safe wavelengths.