In this program, Freedom Photonics will develop a compact, space-qualified LIDAR seed source package at TRL 6. The low SWaP presented by our monolithic photonic integration approach is attractive for small satellite and UAV applications, and the proposed work is necessary in order to mitigate the risk of environmental failure during the harsh conditions of launch and spaceflight. In collaboration with NASA LaRC, the proposed packaging and reliability work will identify and implement aerospace-compatible assembly methods, components, materials, and design.
The package assembly and design in this program will directly translate to other wavelengths and photonic architectures, and we have selected methane LIDAR as the initial target application in order to leverage the successful 1645 nm integration platforms we developed with the support of NASA GSFC. This space qualification effort will ultimately facilitate satellite-based water vapor DIAL and remote sensing of other atmospheric gases.
The Phase I effort will culminate in a prototype LIDAR seed source hardware deliverable, assembled using materials and processes suitable for a small satellite payload.
This program was inspired by an existing need within NASA (LaRC) for new, more precise and powerful remote sensing instrument implementations. The space qualification campaign focuses on package design and assembly, which is directly applicable to other PIC architectures at other wavelengths, so it is relevant for high-resolution LIDAR mapping of water vapor or other atmospheric gases.
This technology will enable our compact PICs to survive launch and spaceflight. Methane LIDAR is relevant to oil and gas exploration; at other wavelengths, space-qualified LIDAR source packages can be used for terrestrial surveys by military satellites, UAVs and aircraft. The extensive risk mitigation of the space qualification may make our LIDAR sources attractive for automotive applications.