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 proceeds with the qualification study we devised in Phase I, and builds on the prototype hardware package we designed and assembled.
The package assembly and design in this program will directly translate to other wavelengths and photonic architectures, and we have selected water vapor and 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 remote sensing of other atmospheric gases, and paves the way for other spaceborne photonic integrated circuits (PICs).
The Phase II effort will culminate in an interim and a final hardware deliverable. The final LIDAR seed source package will be TRL 6.
This program was inspired by an existing need within NASA (LaRC) for new, more precise and powerful remote sensing instrument implementations. The package is being developed for an instrument capable of high spatial resolution 3D mapping of water vapor and methane. 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 other atmospheric gases such as CFCs, carbon dioxide and other volatiles.
This package technology will help us develop packaging that enables our PICs to survive launch and spaceflight. Space-qualified PIC packages can be used for terrestrial surveys, communications, atomic sensing, structural health monitoring, and other remote sensing. The extensive risk mitigation of the space qualification may also make our PICs attractive for automotive and aerospace applications.