Abstract

Interferometric laser ranging is an enabling technology for high-precision satellite-to-satellite tracking within the context of Earth observation, gravitational wave detection, or formation flying. In orbit, the measurement system is affected by environmental influences, particularly satellite attitude jitter and temperature fluctuations, imposing an instrument design with a high level of thermal stability and insensitivity to rotations around the spacecraft center of mass. The new design concept presented here combines different approaches for dynamic heterodyne laser ranging and features the inherent beam-tracking capabilities of a retroreflector in a mono-axial configuration. It allows for a continuously adjustable distance between the optical bench and the location of its fiducial point, facilitating future inter-satellite tracking with nanometer accuracy, e.g., the next-generation gravity mission.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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