Pointing precision is a critical element of instrumentation for optical communications and ranging in space, affecting laser design, link power budgets, and SWaP. While star trackers possess pointing knowledge that is sub-microradian, conventional pointing accuracy is limited by reaction-wheel-based altitude control systems at ~50 microradians.

a satellite above Earth
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a system to more finely point lasers so as to improve satellite precision.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a system to more finely point lasers so as to improve the precision of space optical communications and ranging. Through linking a laser beam mirror-steering mechanism and associated closed-loop control, any residual error in pointing to a desired target is reduced dramatically.

NASA is actively seeking licensees to commercialize this technology. For more information, contact the Goddard Strategic Partnerships Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 301-286-5810. Follow this link here  for more information.


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This article first appeared in the February, 2019 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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