Modulating Retro-Reflectors for Space, Tracking, Acquisition and Ranging using Multiple Quantum Well Technology (Preprint)
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC REMOTE SENSING DIV
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This paper describes a novel concept for optical interrogation, communication, and navigation between spacecraft platforms. The technique uses a gimbaled laser source on a pursuer spacecraft and an array of solid-state, multiple quantum well modulating retroreflectors on a target spacecraft. The sensor system provides high-bandwidth optical communication, centimeter-level relative positioning, and better than arc-minute-level relative attitude of the target platform with minimal sacrifice in target size, weight, and power. To accomplish the relative navigation, each target retroreflector return is modulated with a unique code sequence, allowing for individual discrimination of the detected composite signal at the pursuer location. Experimental results using a dual-platform, multi-degree-of-freedom testbed provide verification and demonstration of the concept, highlighting its potential for applications such as inter-spacecraft rendezvous and capture, long-baseline space interferometry, and formation flying.
- Lasers and Masers
- Unmanned Spacecraft
- Spacecraft Trajectories and Reentry