Abstract

We report on the design and performance of the laser deployed in the airborne demonstrator Doppler wind lidar for the Aeolus mission of the European Space Agency (ESA). The all-solid-state, diode-pumped and frequency-tripled Nd:YAG laser is realized as a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) system, generating 60 mJ of single-frequency pulses at 355 nm wavelength, 50 Hz repetition rate and 20 ns pulse duration. For the measurement of the Doppler frequency shift over several accumulated laser shots, the frequency stability of the laser is of crucial importance. Injection-seeding, in combination with an active cavity control based on the Ramp-Delay-Fire technique, provides a pulse-to-pulse frequency stability of 0.25 MHz measured at 1064 nm under laboratory conditions. This value increases to 0.31 MHz for airborne operation in a vibration environment that has been characterized by multiple acceleration sensors during different flight conditions. In addition, a pure Ramp-Fire setting was tested for comparison leading to a frequency stability of 0.16 MHz both in airborne operation and on ground. The laser cavity control electronics also have to provide a trigger signal for the lidar detection electronics, about 60 μs prior to the expected laser pulse emission and with high timing stability. An in-flight timing stability of below 100 ns was measured decreasing to 20 ns for a shorter pre-trigger time of 10 μs.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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