Advanced systems for wind sampling and measurement are a prime area for technical innovation. Applications range from atmospheric and climate modeling to aerospace vehicle design. Systems with higher temporal resolution and fidelity offer the ability to record increasingly transient atmospheric phenomena, leading to improved feedback for atmospheric modeling and for real-time adaptive systems for flight dynamics and wind power generation systems.
Systems & Processes Engineering Corporation (SPEC) proposes a Multi-Channel Long-Range Wind LIDAR system toward increasing the scan rate, and therefore the temporal resolution, of advanced Wind LIDAR systems. The proposed system scales up from an already-developed single-channel fiber optic based, eye-safe wind LIDAR, initially designed for UAV systems and brought to breadboard level through Army and NASA programs. The single-channel transceiver consists of a narrow band laser seed, acousto-optic modulator for frequency shift and pulse forming, a three-stage erbium-doped fiber amplifier, and a coherent receiver, all operating at an eye-safe wavelength of 1550 nm. The system electronics and computational stack are in PCIe/104 format, allowing miniaturized light-weight packaging suitable for small UAV applications and the entire range of commercial and military aircraft. This LIDAR allows air current Doppler detection beyond 3 km. The Wind Measurement LIDAR was originally designed to detect energy sources such as vertical uplifts, wind direction, wind gradients and transient gusts for optimal path determination for energy conservation in UAVs. By further developing the capabilities of this wind LIDAR system, specifically by increasing the channel count up to a targeted 32 channels, the overall system scan rate can be increased proportionately thereby improving the temporal resolution by up to 32x. Lockheed Martin Space and Rotary & Mission Systems divisions have provided a letter of support for this LIDAR program.
This multi-channel long-range Wind LIDAR will have far reaching impact for all NASA low altitude applications for UAVs and all aircraft for clear air turbulence and wind shear detection. Wind speed detection can also be used to optimize high altitude aircraft loitering to enhance mission duration. The small size, weight and power allow widespread platform applications. The unit can also be used to discriminate and track targets for obstacle/collision avoidance.
Improved atmospheric modeling data is useful to improve existing and future military and commercial aircraft design, aiding weather forecasting and scientists studying climate change, and find low turbulence flight paths or improve in-flight aeronautical stabilization. Lockheed Martin business divisions are supporting our roadmap and have provided a Letter of Support for this proposal.