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Microwave-to-Optical Conversion in WGM Resonators

Three-wave mixing, resonance, and low loss would result in high efficiency. Microwave-to-optical frequency converters based on whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) resonators have been proposed as mixers for the input ends of microwave receivers in which, downstream of the input ends, signals would be processed photonically. A frequency converter as proposed (see figure) would exploit the nonlinearity of the electromagnetic response of a WGM resonator made of LiNbO3 or another suitable ferroelectric material. Up-conversion would take place by three-wave mixing in the resonator.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Wide-Band Microwave Receivers Using Photonic Processing

One receiver would have the functionality of multiple traditional heterodyne microwave receivers. In wide-band microwave receivers of a type now undergoing development, the incoming microwave signals are electronically preamplified, then frequency-up-converted to optical signals that are processed photonically before being detected. This approach differs from the traditional approach, in which incoming microwave signals are processed by purely electronic means. As used here, “wide-band microwave receivers” refers especially to receivers capable of reception at any frequency throughout the range from about 90 to about 300 GHz. The advantage expected to be gained by following the up-conversion-and- photonic-processing approach is the ability to overcome the limitations of currently available detectors and tunable local oscillators in the frequency range of interest.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs

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Position Sensors Help Cameras Focus on Mars

Hall Effect position sensors Micropac Industries Garland, TX 972-272-3571 www.micropac.com Micropac’s hermetic Hall Effect devices are being used by Alliance Spacesystems, LLC and Malin Space Science Systems in camera mechanisms on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover. Malin Space Science Systems’ Mast Camera (MastCam) and the Mars Hand-Lens Imager (MAHLI) will use focus, filter wheel, and cover mechanisms produced by Alliance Spacesystems. The Hall Effect position sensors are used in the focusing mechanisms on both cameras.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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Devices Execute Critical Separations for Phoenix Lander

Hi-Shear separation devices Hi-Shear Technology Corp. Torrance, CA 310-326-8110 www.hi-shear.com Hi-Shear separation nuts and pressure cartridges recently were used on the Phoenix Mars lander after being exposed to the cold temperatures and harsh environments of space for nine-and-a-half months. The Phoenix lander landed on Mars on May 25, 2008, and the Hi-Shear devices executed the Critical Cruise Stage Separation, Backshell Separation, and Heatshield Separation for a successful landing and operation on the surface of Mars. The spacecraft targeted the circumpolar region using a robotic arm to dig through the protective top soil layer to the water ice below, and to ultimately bring both soil and water ice to the lander platform for analysis.

Posted in: Application Briefs

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WGM Resonators for Terahertz-to-Optical Frequency Conversion

Receivers containing these devices are contemplated for astronomical and military uses. Progress has been made toward solving some practical problems in the implementation of terahertz-to-optical frequency converters utilizing whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) resonators. Such frequency converters are expected to be essential parts of non-cryogenic terahertz-radiation receivers that are, variously, under development or contemplated for a variety of applications in airborne and spaceborne instrumentation for astronomical and military uses.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Temperature Sensors Based on WGM Optical Resonators

Differences between temperature-dependent frequencies of resonances would be measured. A proposed technique for measuring temperature would exploit differences between the temperature dependences of the frequencies of two different electromagnetic modes of a whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) optical resonator. An apparatus based on this technique was originally intended to be part of a control system for stabilizing a laser frequency in the face of temperature fluctuations. When suitably calibrated, apparatuses based on this technique could also serve as precise temperature sensors for purposes other than stabilization of lasers.

Posted in: Photonics, Briefs, TSP

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Energy Storage Technology to Power the Future in Space Exploration

By Carolyn Mercer, NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH NASA is focused on building a human outpost on the lunar surface. To reach this goal, there is a critical need to develop energy storage technologies to power the future lunar outpost. In particular, technology is required for outpost power generation for the lunar lander that will deliver outpost hardware, and for advanced extravehicular activity (EVA) suits. In every case, human-safe, reliable operation and low mass are critical to ensure the viability of extended stays on the lunar surface while minimizing the launch mass and the mass carried by astronauts and lunar rovers.

Posted in: NASA Tech Needs

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