Algorithm for Estimating PRC Wavefront Errors from Shack-Hartmann Camera Images

Phase retrieval is used for the calibration and the fine-alignment of an optical system. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California Phase retrieval (PR) and Shack-Hartmann Sensor (SHS) are the two preferred methods of image-based wavefront sensing widely used in various optical testbeds, adaptive optical systems, and ground- and space-based telescopes. They are used to recover the phase information of an optical system from defocused point source images (PR) and focused point source or extended scene images (SHS). For example, the Terrestrial Planet Finder Coronagraph’s (TPF-C’s) High-Contrast Imaging Testbed (HCIT) uses a PR camera (PRC) to estimate, and subsequently correct, the phase error at the exit pupil of this optical system. Several other test-beds at JPL were, and will be, equipped with both a PRC and a Shack-Hartmann camera (SHC).

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Cameras, Optics, Sensors


Photo-Thermo-Refractive Glass Co-Doped with Luminescent Agents for All-Solid-State Microchip Lasers

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A proposed solid-state technology possesses photosensitivity that enables volume hologram recording and a high efficiency of luminescence, enabling stimulated emission. These features were used to record volume Bragg gratings and to demonstrate lasing under laser diode pumping for the same volume of glass. Moreover, a combination of dopants provides extremely wide luminescence bands, which enables both wideband optical processing and extremely short laser pulse generation. It is important that the whole design be incorporated in a single, monolithic piece of glass that excludes the opportunity for misalignment and sensitivity to vibrations. If developed, the compactness and reliability of such laser devices would find wide use in space or aeronautical applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics


Large Computer-Generated Hologram with Software-Generated Calibration Wavefront Map

This type of testing aspheric surfaces provides better imaging, lower mapping distortion, and much higher-quality substrates. Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama This technology enables accurate calibration of a large Computer Generated Hologram (CGH) fabricated without great accuracy, such that the CGH still measures an aspheric surface to an excellent accuracy of a couple of nm rms. The goal is the creation of software for generating a calibration map, and the fabrication of a couple of 9-in. (≈22.5-cm)-diameter CGHs to experimentally verify the technology. Use of CGHs in testing aspheric surfaces provides many advantages, such as better imaging, lower mapping distortion, and much higher-quality substrates.

Posted in: Briefs, Optics, Electronics & Computers


Active Layer Optimization in Ultra-Thin, Surface-Parallel, Deformable Mirrors

This method enables low-cost, lightweight, active mirrors with a large dynamic range and improved actuation characteristics. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California A design methodology was developed that optimizes the performance of active mirrors. Patterns of parameterized ellipsoidal actuators are overlaid onto the mirror, and then numerically optimized to improve performance of the mirror in optical modes that are typically difficult to correct, while also improving performance in other optical modes.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, Tech Briefs, Optics, Photonics


Monolithic Dual Telescope for Compact Biaxial Lidar

Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A document discusses the Ultra Compact Cloud Physics Lidar, a biaxial lidar with a narrow receiver field of view. It requires tight optical alignment between the transmitter and receiver paths while flying on various aircraft over various temperatures and in the presence of vibration. To achieve optical crossover as close to the lidar as possible, the transmit and receive telescopes must be built very closely to each other.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP, Tech Briefs, Photonics


Passive Aerosol Cloud Suite

High-accuracy polarization measurements can be made with high angular density across full images. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland The Passive Aerosol Cloud Suite (PACS) is an imaging polarimeter that employs wide field-of-view (FOV) optics to obtain a highly accurate polarimetric signal across an image with hyperangle, multiangle views. PACS is designed to measure the array of parameters necessary to retrieve aerosol and cloud microphysical characteristics. The final goal of PACS is a flight model able to compete for a position on the Aerosol-Cloud-Ecology (ACE) Decadal Survey mission or other space-based platforms, but adaptations of the basic technology to airborne and ground-based applications are anticipated.

Posted in: Articles, Briefs, TSP, Tech Briefs, Optics, Photonics


Solar Pumped Fiber Laser for Solar Sail Propulsion and Remote Power Transfer

The photovoltaic capability of any instrument can be enhanced by delivering extra power via a space-based, broadband laser beam. Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland A new method has been developed to create coherent laser light efficiently with direct optical coupling of the Sun’s energy into the gain medium for multiple uses. New advances in solar cell photovoltaic (PV) technologies have greatly improved their efficiencies, mostly by improving their ability to convert many wavelengths or wider bands of the solar spectrum to electricity. New advances in actively doped fibers and optical glasses have been shown to produce very broad, multi-line absorption bands as well as stimulated emission lines, or laser lines. By designing the optical cavity system to feed back all emission bands into the gain media for amplification, a multi-wavelength source can be generated requiring no electronics.

Posted in: Briefs, Tech Briefs, Photonics