Space-Based Laser Systems Training

Space-Based Laser Systems Training

Course Delivery

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Course Overview:

Space-Based Laser Systems Training Course Description

This two-day short Space-Based Laser Systems Training reviews the underlying technology areas used to construct and operate space-based laser altimeters and laser radar systems. The Space-Based Laser Systems Training course presents background information to allow an appreciation for designing and evaluating space-based laser radars.

Fundamental descriptions are given for direct-detection and coherent-detection laser radar systems, and, details associated with space applications are presented. System requirements are developed and methodology of system component selection is given. Performance evaluation criteria are developed based on system requirements. Design considerations for space-based laser radars are discussed and case studies describing previous and current space instrumentation are presented. In particular, the development, test, and operation of the NEAR Laser Radar is discussed in detailed to illustrate design decisions.

Emerging technologies pushing next-generation laser altimeters are discussed, the use of lasers in BMD and TMD architectures are summarized, and additional topics addressing laser radar target identification and tracking aspects are provided. Fundamentals associated with lasers and optics are not covered in this Space-Based Laser Systems Training course, a generalized level of understanding is assumed.

Customize It:

• We can adapt this Space-Based Laser Systems Training course to your group’s background and work requirements at little to no added cost.
• If you are familiar with some aspects of this Space-Based Laser Systems Training course, we can omit or shorten their discussion.
• We can adjust the emphasis placed on the various topics or build the Space-Based Laser Systems Training course around the mix of technologies of interest to you (including technologies other than those included in this outline).
• If your background is nontechnical, we can exclude the more technical topics, include the topics that may be of special interest to you (e.g., as a manager or policy-maker), and present the Space-Based Laser Systems Training course in manner understandable to lay audiences.

Space-Based Laser Systems Training – Related Courses:

Software Defined Radio Signal Processing Training
Software Defined Radio Development Training

Space-Based Laser Systems Training – Audience:

Engineers, scientists, and technical managers interested in obtaining a fundamental knowledge of the technologies and system engineering aspects underlying laser radar systems. The course presents mathematical equations (e.g., link budget) and design rules (e.g., bi-static, mono-static, coherent, direct detection configurations), survey and discussion of key technologies employed (laser transmitters, receiver optics and transducer, post-detection signal processing), performance measurement and examples, and an overview of special topics (e.g., space qualification and operation, scintillation effects, signal processing implementations) to allow appreciation towards the design and operation of laser radars in space.

Space-Based Laser Systems Training – Course Content:

Introduction to Laser Radar Systems. Definitions Remote sensing and altimetry, Space object identification and tracking.

Review of Basic Theory. How Laser Radar Systems Function.

Direct-detection systems. Coherent-detection systems, Altimetry application, Radar (tracking) application, Target identification application.

Laser Radar Design Approach. Constraints, Spacecraft resources, Cost drivers, Proven technologies, Matching instrument with application.

System Performance Evaluation. Development of laser radar performance equations, Review of secondary considerations, Speckle, Glint, Trade-off studies, Aperture vs. power, Coherent vs. incoherent detection, Spacecraft pointing vs. beam steering optics.

Laser Radar Functional Implementation. Component descriptions, System implementations.

Case Studies. Altimeters, Apollo 17, Clementine, Detailed study of the NEAR laser altimeter design & implementation, selection of system components for high-rel requirements, testing of space-based laser systems, nuances associated with operating space-based lasers, Mars Global Surveyor, Radars, LOWKATR (BMD midcourse sensing), FIREPOND (BMD target ID), TMD/BMD Laser Systems, COIL: A TMD Airborne Laser System (TMD target lethal interception).

Emerging Developments and Future Trends. PN coding, Laser vibrometry, Signal processing hardware Implementation issues.


Timothy Cole is a leading authority with 30 years of experience exclusively working in electro-optical systems as a systems and design engineer. While at Applied Physics Laboratory for 21 years, Tim was awarded the NASA Achievement Award in connection with the design, development and operation of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Laser Radar and was also the initial technical lead for the New Horizons LOng-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI instrument). He has presented technical papers addressing space-based laser altimetry all over the US and Europe. His industry experience has been focused on the systems engineering and analysis associated development of optical detectors, wireless ad hoc remote sensing, exoatmospheric sensor design and now leads ICESat-2 ATLAS altimeter calibration effort.

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