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Diode laser stacks to brave 'space' conditions

18 Aug 2006

With the restructured company set on seeking out new markets, Jenoptik subsidiaries are partnering to develop a "space compatible" pump laser intended for use in a satellite-mounted atmospheric analysis lidar system.

Sister companies Jena-Optronik and Jenoptik Laserdiode are to develop a pumping source for a laser designed for the European Space Agency's pending atmospheric lidar (ATLID) system. The ATLID is intended to be used within the ESA's Earth Observation program to better understand the interactions between clouds, radiation and atmospheric aerosols.

A corresponding order from the ESA was awarded specially for the related European-Japanese EarthCARE mission (Earth Clouds Aerosols and Radiation Explorer). This will involve the first deployment of an ATLID system.

The ATLID will be one of five key instruments on board the EarthCARE mission satellite. It will be equipped with a special laser as its light source. The high-power diode laser, to be the pumping source for the ATLID laser, is one of the most important elements, say the German partners.

Jena-Optronik says it will carry out trials on the service life of the diode stack in a vacuum over an 18 month period and also perform environmental tests, including for radiation and vibration, to ensure that the laser operates reliably.

Jenoptik Laserdiode says its diode laser stacks are "world leaders" in terms of their durability and reliability. With this new development project the Jenoptik Group is pursuing its strategy of developing new markets through synergies within its group of companies.

Previously, Jenoptik's developments in the field of high-power diode lasers have been aimed primarily at ensuring that these lasers can be used reliably within the industrial environment, particularly in the automotive industry and in medical technology.

The results of the research from this ESA joint project, which is already underway, will enable Jenoptik to acquire new know-how in the use of high-power diode lasers beyond their pure industrial applications.

The proposed satellite, orbiting at a height of 450 km, is intended to investigate the horizontal as well as vertical distribution of clouds, aerosols and radiation as well as their interactions together, with the help of various sensors.

Aerosols in particular play a major role in the chemistry of the earth's atmosphere since chemical reactions can take place between them, producing aggressive substances.

The ATLID will operate within a wave length range around 355 nm and is expected to lead to a better understanding of the interaction between clouds, radiation and aerosol processes.

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