Abstract

The space-qualified design of a miniaturized laser for pulsed operation at a wavelength of 1064 nm and at repetition rates up to 10 Hz is presented. This laser consists of a pair of diode-laser pumped, actively q-switched Nd:YAG rod oscillators hermetically sealed and encapsulated in an environment of dry synthetic air. The system delivers at least 300 million laser pulses with 50 mJ energy and 5 ns pulse width (FWHM). It will be launched in 2017 aboard European Space Agency’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter as part of the BepiColombo Laser Altimeter, which, after a 6-years cruise, will start recording topographic data from orbital altitudes between 400 and 1500 km above Mercury’s surface.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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2012

M. T. Zuber, D. E. Smith, R. J. Phillips, S. C. Solomon, G. A. Neumann, S. A. Hauck, S. J. Peale, O. S. Barnouin, J. W. Head, C. L. Johnson, F. G. Lemoine, E. Mazarico, X. Sun, M. H. Torrence, A. M. Freed, C. Klimczak, J.-L. Margot, J. Oberst, M. E. Perry, R. L. McNutt, J. A. Balcerski, N. Michel, M. J. Talpe, and D. Yang, “Topography of the northern hemisphere of Mercury from MESSENGER Laser Altimetry,” Science 336, 217–220 (2012).
[CrossRef]

C. J. Stolz and J. Runkel, “Brewster angle polarizing beamsplitter laser damage competition: P polarization,” Proc. SPIE 8530, 85300M (2012).
[CrossRef]

T. Beck, A. Bieler, and N. Thomas, “Numerical thermal mathematical model correlation to thermal balance test using adaptive particle swarm optimization (APSO),” Appl. Therm. Eng. 38, 168–174 (2012).
[CrossRef]

S. Chakraborty, M. Affolter, K. Gunderson, J. Neubert, N. Thomas, T. Beck, M. Gerber, S. Graf, D. Piazza, A. Pommerol, G. Roethlisberger, and K. Seiferlin, “High accuracy alignment facility for the receiver and transmitter of the BepiColombo Laser Altimeter,” Appl. Opt. 51, 4907–4915 (2012).
[CrossRef]

2011

G. Klumel, Y. Karni, S. Cohen, M. Rech, and K. Weidlich, “Temperature and current accelerated lifetime conditions and testing of laser diodes for ESA BepiColombo space mission,” Proc. SPIE 7918, 791804 (2011).
[CrossRef]

W. Riede, H. Schroeder, G. Bataviciute, D. Wernham, A. Tighe, F. Pettazzi, and J. Alves, “Laser-induced contamination on space optics,” Proc. SPIE 8190, 81901E (2011).
[CrossRef]

K. Weidlich, M. Rech, and R. Kallenbach, “Qualification testing of the laser transmitter part for ESA’s BepiColombo Laser Altimeter (BELA),” Proc. SPIE 8159, 815906 (2011).
[CrossRef]

2010

K.-H. Glassmeier, H.-U. Auster, D. Heyner, K. Okrafka, C. Carr, G. Berghofer, B.-J. Anderson, A. Balogh, W. Baumjohann, P. Cargill, U. Christensen, M. Delva, M. Dougherty, K.-H. Fornacon, T.-S. Horbury, E.-A. Lucek, W. Magnes, M. Mandea, A. Matsuoka, M. Matsushima, U. Motschmann, R. Nakamura, Y. Narita, H. O’Brien, I. Richter, K. Schwingenschuh, H. Shibuya, J.-A. Slavin, C. Sotin, B. Stoll, H. Tsunakawa, S. Vennerstrom, J. Vogt, and T. Zhang, “The fluxgate magnetometer of the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter,” Planet. Space Sci. 58, 287–299 (2010).
[CrossRef]

M. T. Zuber, D. E. Smith, R. Zellar, G. A. Neumann, X. Sun, J. Connelly, A. Matuszeski, J. F. McGarry, M. Ott, L. Ramos-Izquierdo, D. D. Rowlands, T. Zagwodzki, and M. H. Torrence, “The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter laser ranging investigation,” Space Sci. Rev. 150, 63–80 (2010).
[CrossRef]

C. Li, X. Ren, J. Liu, X. Zou, L. Mu, J. Wang, R. Shu, Y. Zou, H. Zhang, C. Lü, J. Liu, W. Zuo, Y. Su, W. Wen, W. Bian, M. Wang, C. Xu, D. Kong, X. Wang, F. Wang, L. Geng, Z. Zhang, L. Zheng, X. Zhu, J. Li, and Z. Ouyang, “Laser altimetry data of Chang-E-1 and the global lunar DEM model,” Sci. China: Earth Sci. 53, 1582–1593 (2010).
[CrossRef]

H. Becht, H. Hubach, M. Rech, and M. Weispfennig, “Efficient lasers for remote sensing,” Proc. SPIE 7686, 76860D (2010).
[CrossRef]

2009

W. Riede, H. Schroeder, P. Allenspacher, and P. Mahnke, “Aspects of laser optics qualification for space applications,” Proc. SPIE 7504, 75040T (2009).
[CrossRef]

2008

C. Koch, U. R. Christensen, and R. Kallenbach, “Simultaneous determination of global topography, tidal Love number and libration amplitude of Mercury by laser altimetry,” Planet. Space Sci. 56, 1226–1237 (2008).
[CrossRef]

W. Riede, P. Allenspacher, and L. Jensen, “Analysis of the air-vacuum effect in dielectric coatings,” Proc. SPIE 7132, 71320F (2008).
[CrossRef]

M. T. Zuber, D. E. Smith, S. C. Solomon, R. J. Phillips, S. J. Peale, J. W. Head, S. A. Hauck, R. L. McNutt, J. Oberst, G. A. Neumann, F. G. Lemoine, X. Sun, O. Barnouin-Jha, and J. K. Harmon, “Laser altimeter observations from MESSENGER’s first Mercury flyby,” Science 321, 77–79 (2008).
[CrossRef]

2007

A. Balogh, R. Grard, S. C. Solomon, R. Schulz, Y. Langevin, Y. Kasaba, and M. Fujimoto, “Missions to Mercury,” Space Sci. Rev. 132, 611–645 (2007).
[CrossRef]

N. Thomas, T. Spohn, J.-P. Barriot, W. Benz, G. Beutler, U. Christensen, V. Dehant, C. Fallnich, D. Giardini, O. Groussin, K. Gunderson, E. Hauber, M. Hilchenbach, L. Iess, P. Lamy, L.-M. Lara, P. Lognonné, J. J. Lopez-Moreno, H. Michaelis, J. Oberst, D. Resendes, J.-L. Reynaud, R. Rodrigo, S. Sasaki, K. Seiferlin, M. Wieczorek, and J. Whitby, “The BepiColombo Laser Altimeter (BELA): concept and baseline design,” Planet. Space Sci. 55, 1398–1413 (2007).
[CrossRef]

K. Seiferlin, S. Chakraborty, K. Gunderson, J. Fischer, B. Lüthi, D. Piazza, M. Rieder, M. Sigrist, N. Thomas, and T. Weigel, “Design and manufacture of a lightweight reflective baffle for the BepiColombo Laser Altimeter,” Opt. Eng. 46, 043003 (2007).
[CrossRef]

M. Sgavetti, L. Pompilio, C. Carli, M. C. de Sanctis, F. Capaccioni, G. Cremonese, and E. Flamini, “VIHI: the Visible and Infrared Hyperspectral Imager channel of the SIMBIO-SYS instrument for the BepiColombo mission to Mercury,” Planet. Space Sci. 55, 1596–1613 (2007).
[CrossRef]

D. M. Winker, W. H. Hunt, and M. J. McGill, “Initial performance assessment of CALIOP,” Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L19803 (2007).
[CrossRef]

2006

U. R. Christensen, “A deep dynamo generating Mercury’s magnetic field,” Nature 444, 1056–1058 (2006).
[CrossRef]

D. M. Lucchesi and V. Iafolla, “The non-gravitational perturbations impact on the BepiColombo radio science experiment and the key role of the ISA accelerometer: direct solar radiation and albedo effects,” Celestial Mech. Dyn. Astron. 96, 99–127 (2006).
[CrossRef]

K. Gunderson, N. Thomas, and M. Rohner, “A laser altimeter model and its application to BELA,” IEEE Trans. Geosci. Remote Sens. 44, 3308–3319 (2006).
[CrossRef]

2005

2003

T. Van Hoolst and C. Jacobs, “Mercury’s tides and interior structure,” J. Geophys. Res. 108, 5121 (2003).
[CrossRef]

2001

A. Milani, A. Rossi, D. Vokrouhlicky, D. Villani, and C. Bonanno, “Gravity field and rotation state of Mercury from the BepiColombo radio science experiments,” Planet. Space Sci. 49, 1579–1596 (2001).
[CrossRef]

M. C. Amann, T. Bosch, M. Lescure, R. Myllyla, and M. Rioux, “Laser ranging: a critical review of usual techniques for distance measurement,” Opt. Eng. 40, 10–19 (2001).
[CrossRef]

B. Hapke, “Space weathering from Mercury to the asteroid belt,” J. Geophys. Res. 106, 10039–10074 (2001).
[CrossRef]

B. E. Schutz, “Laser altimetry and lidar from ICESat/GLAS,” IEEE Geosci. Remote Sens. 3, 1016–1019 (2001).

R. E. Gold, S. C. Solomon, R. L. McNutt, A. G. Santo, J. B. Abshire, M. H. Acũna, R. S. Afzal, B. J. Anderson, G. B. Andrews, P. D. Bedini, J. Cain, A. F. Cheng, L. G. Evans, W. C. Feldman, R. B. Follas, G. Gloeckler, J. O. Goldsten, S. E. Hawkins, N. R. Izenberg, S. E. Jaskulek, E. A. Ketchum, M. R. Lankton, D. A. Lohr, B. H. Mauk, W. E. McClintock, S. L. Murchie, C. E. Schlemm, D. E. Smith, R. D. Starr, and T. H. Zurbuchen, “The MESSENGER mission to Mercury: scientific payload,” Planet. Space Sci. 49, 1467–1479 (2001).
[CrossRef]

S. C. Solomon, R. L. McNutt, R. E. Gold, M. H. Acũna, D. N. Baker, W. V. Boynton, C. R. Chapman, A. F. Cheng, G. Gloeckler, J. W. Head, S. M. Krimigis, W. E. McClintock, S. L. Murchie, S. J. Peale, R. J. Phillips, M. S. Robinson, J. A. Slavin, D. E. Smith, R. G. Strom, J. I. Trombka, and M. T. Zuber, “The MESSENGER mission to Mercury: scientific objectives and implementation,” Planet. Space Sci. 49, 1445–1465 (2001).
[CrossRef]

2000

A. F. Cheng, T. D. Cole, M. T. Zuber, D. E. Smith, Y. Guo, and F. Davidson, “In-flight calibration of the near earth asteroid rendezvous laser rangefinder,” Icarus 148, 572–586 (2000).
[CrossRef]

1999

H. Araki, M. Ooe, T. Tsubokawa, N. Kawano, H. Hanada, and K. Heki, “Lunar laser altimetry in the SELENE project,” Adv. Space Res. 23, 1813–1816 (1999).
[CrossRef]

1998

F. X. Daiminger, F. Dorsch, and S. Heinemann, “Aging properties of AlGaAs/GaAs high power diode lasers,” Proc. SPIE 3244, 587–595 (1998).

1997

D. E. Smith, M. T. Zuber, G. A. Neumann, and F. G. Lemoine, “Topography of the Moon from the Clementine LIDAR,” J. Geophys. Res. 102, 1591–1611 (1997).
[CrossRef]

M. T. Zuber, D. E. Smith, A. F. Cheng, and T. D. Cole, “The NEAR laser ranging investigation,” J. Geophys. Res. 102, 23761–23774 (1997).
[CrossRef]

1996

T. D. Cole, “Spaceborne laser altimetry,” Crit. Rev. 66, 383–405 (1996).

1995

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1994

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1989

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1982

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1972

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S. C. Solomon, R. L. McNutt, R. E. Gold, M. H. Acũna, D. N. Baker, W. V. Boynton, C. R. Chapman, A. F. Cheng, G. Gloeckler, J. W. Head, S. M. Krimigis, W. E. McClintock, S. L. Murchie, S. J. Peale, R. J. Phillips, M. S. Robinson, J. A. Slavin, D. E. Smith, R. G. Strom, J. I. Trombka, and M. T. Zuber, “The MESSENGER mission to Mercury: scientific objectives and implementation,” Planet. Space Sci. 49, 1445–1465 (2001).
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R. E. Gold, S. C. Solomon, R. L. McNutt, A. G. Santo, J. B. Abshire, M. H. Acũna, R. S. Afzal, B. J. Anderson, G. B. Andrews, P. D. Bedini, J. Cain, A. F. Cheng, L. G. Evans, W. C. Feldman, R. B. Follas, G. Gloeckler, J. O. Goldsten, S. E. Hawkins, N. R. Izenberg, S. E. Jaskulek, E. A. Ketchum, M. R. Lankton, D. A. Lohr, B. H. Mauk, W. E. McClintock, S. L. Murchie, C. E. Schlemm, D. E. Smith, R. D. Starr, and T. H. Zurbuchen, “The MESSENGER mission to Mercury: scientific payload,” Planet. Space Sci. 49, 1467–1479 (2001).
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K.-H. Glassmeier, H.-U. Auster, D. Heyner, K. Okrafka, C. Carr, G. Berghofer, B.-J. Anderson, A. Balogh, W. Baumjohann, P. Cargill, U. Christensen, M. Delva, M. Dougherty, K.-H. Fornacon, T.-S. Horbury, E.-A. Lucek, W. Magnes, M. Mandea, A. Matsuoka, M. Matsushima, U. Motschmann, R. Nakamura, Y. Narita, H. O’Brien, I. Richter, K. Schwingenschuh, H. Shibuya, J.-A. Slavin, C. Sotin, B. Stoll, H. Tsunakawa, S. Vennerstrom, J. Vogt, and T. Zhang, “The fluxgate magnetometer of the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter,” Planet. Space Sci. 58, 287–299 (2010).
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Figures (11)

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Left: BELA laser transmitter integrated with the receiver [22]. 1, Receiver baffle unit [23]; 2, receiver telescope covered by multilayer insulation; 3, carbon-fiber-enforced aluminum honeycomb baseplate; 4, focal plane assembly; 5, analog electronics unit of the receiver; 6, laser electronics unit (LEU); 7, electronics unit including power converter module, data processing module, and rangefinder module; 8, laser head box (LHB); 9, stray light protection unit; 10, transmitter baffle unit. Right: CAD drawing of the BELA LHB with a, pressurized (1 bar) laser compartment cover made of aluminum beryllium metal alloy (AlBeMet162); b, C-ring sealing interface; c, quasi-isostatic mounts (bipods); d, laser compartment base made of AlBeMet162; e, data line connector; f, power line connector for 200 μs diode laser current pulses at 100 A; g, heater bracket at LHB thermal interface; h, thermal strap to spacecraft cold finger; i, stack of spherical washers and shims for quasi-isostatic precision mounting onto the BELA instrument baseplate; k, beam expander (BEX) cone; l, apsherical BEX front lens; m, optical reference plane; n, fiber-optical interface for laser start pulse to avalanche photodiode detector of the receiver.

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Left: EQM of the BELA LHB without cover and C-ring sealings containing two cold-redundant laser systems and including BEX optics. Right: EQM LEU with capacitor reservoirs to drive the 100 A diode laser current at pulse lengths of up to 200 μs.

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Left: schematics of the two redundant, orthogonally polarized BELA laser resonators and the transfer optics to the BEX. The cross-section A is detailed in Fig. 4 (right). Right: schematics of the BEX optics with its first lens inside, and the second and third lens outside the pressurized volume, respectively.

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Left: LHB with removed cover and color-coded temperature distribution as derived through an ESATAN simulation software package. The calculated temperature distribution was applied to the structural mathematical model for thermoelastic analysis. Right: CAD cross section, corresponding to cross-section A of Fig. 3 (left), through one of the BELA laser pump cavities indicating the heat flow from the LDAs to the thermal strap.

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

BELA laser CAD drawing of the LHB with cover removed.

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

Determination of the activation energy of the BELA diode laser assemblies from step stress analysis data. A χ2-fit with 63% confidence limit yields a slope of (0.00169±0.00005)eV and an abscissa intercept of (0.054±0.0015). The center of the ordinate, corresponding to a reference temperature T0 to apply the linearization of Eq. (4), can be reliably determined as 29.3±1.3. This leads to a degradation at T0400K of 0.0045±0.0022 as best fit. This value introduces the dominant relative uncertainty of 50% in the determination of the life time and the activation energy Ea=(0.46±0.23)eV.

Fig. 7.
Fig. 7.

BELA laser life test results. Three power drop-outs are visible: the first (at about 92 days) has been caused by a power blackout, the second (at about 142 days) by a drop-out of the laboratory temperature control, the third (at about 335 days) by drop-out of the synthetic air supply on 2 April 2013. The initial power degradation after about four Mshots is presumed to be caused by “infant mortality.” (Note, that for practical reasons, this life model does not have the final C-ring sealing and, therefore, has a higher leakage rate than the EQM and the flight hardware. Although this leakage rate is negligible for contamination exchange, the life model has been kept in a vacuum chamber flushed by additional dry synthetic air during this life test).

Fig. 8.
Fig. 8.

Upper left: microscope picture of coating damage after exposure of the polarizing beam splitter as test sample (lower left) to subsequently increasing energy densities at 1064 nm wavelength. Right: at each energy density level, this particular sample has been exposed to 10,000 shots at each spot [57]. The plot simply indicates whether a spot has been damaged within these 10,000 shots or not. This results in an LIDT of approximately 13Jcm2.

Fig. 9.
Fig. 9.

Left: laser pulse energy before irradiation of the RTP crystal (reference 30951181/2), after 200 kRad of proton irradiation (120107), and after additional 200 kRad of gamma irradiation (120113). Right: laser pulse energy before irradiation of the Nd:YAG laser rod (reference 273270), after 200 kRad of gamma irradiation (273278), and after additional 200 kRad of proton irradiation (273279).

Fig. 10.
Fig. 10.

Left: acceleration values at the BELA BEX from coupled structural analysis for the transmitter and receiver integrated onto the baseplate based on the input to the baseplate footpoints (BP FP) indicated by the thin blue line. Right: measurement results from a random vibration test with the input at the hard-mounted footpoints of the LHB bipods (LHB FP) indicated by the light-brown line. For axis denotations please refer to Fig. 1.

Fig. 11.
Fig. 11.

Top: schematic of measurement setup to record the bore-sight stability of the laser beam. The measurement accuracy of this setup is of order 5 μrad, where the repeatability of the measurement contributes 5 μrad, the focal plane adjustment accuracy is 1.7 μrad, and one of the 1280×1024 CCD camera pixels corresponds to 1.12 μrad. Bottom: spots on the CCD camera before (left) and after (right) random vibration from the three reference mirrors mounted to the hard INVAR baseplate (the third reference hardly visible before vibration) of the stand-alone LHB and from the laser beam.

Tables (6)

Tables Icon

Table 1. Link Budget Parameters of the BELA Instrument

Tables Icon

Table 2. Resources of the BELA Laser System Aboard the MPO and Environmental Parameters at the Laser Head Box (LHB)

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Table 3. Example for Step Stress Analysis Data of LDA Test Groups Consisting of Four Stacks R-8 with Eight Diode Laser Bars Each, Operated at 80 A Current and 200 μs Pulse Duration (Pump Time)

Tables Icon

Table 4. Average Pulse Energy Degradation Data from the Extended Lifetime Test at Component Level with Eight BELA LDAs R-8 by SCD Belonging to the Evaluation Group

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Table 5. LDA Degradation after Proton Irradiation

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Table 6. LHB Bore-Sight Changes Δbs During Qualification Testing

Equations (4)

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Nr=(Etηhν)·(ArdM2)·tsys·tatm2·(rtarΩtar).
τ(T)=τ(T0)exp[EakB(1T1T0)],
P(t,T)=P0(T)exp[tτ(T)].
P(t,T)P0(T)P0(T)tτ(T0)(1EakBT+EakBT0),

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