Shark mounted lasers and precision space lasers

Posted by Steve Rowe on

Esco Laser Shark

It’s World Space Week—Day 2. So, let’s start with some humor. Around the shop, we often joke that the best lasers are the ones mounted on sharksBut what’s better than shark-mounted lasers? Well, that’s easy. Space lasers (and no, we don’t mean the Death Star). Ok, back to space lasers. Real space lasers.

We provide a lot of optics for lasers, and some of the baddest lasers are coming from our clients at NASA. These space lasers are capable of doing incredible things, including measuring surfaces and elevation from space.

Precision performance
What makes the lasers so amazing is that they’re extremely precise. From tracing the surface topography of Mars to measuring ice sheets in Greenland, space lasers provide massive amounts of useful data that simply can’t be collected with any other tools.

Photon timing
Take NASA’s Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) system, for example. It consists of six beams that pulse at 10,000 times a second, timing the flight of photons from the satellite to the Earth and back. Using the time of the photons’ return trip, the speed of light, and some geometry, scientists can determine the distance the photons traveled. And that lets them calculate the height of the Earth below the satellite’s orbit.

 How cool is that?

Space laser from satellite

Our aerospace clients need a partner that provides collaboration along with short run optical prototypes. Questions like, what optical glass is right for a specific application? Or what transmission rates can be expected from material A vs. material B. For over 60 years we have never turned our backs on a challenge, take a look at our custom optics page to see more about our capabilities. We also machine all types of material including UV & IR grade silica, fused quartz, optical glass, filter & flint glass, low expansion glass and we have many types of specialty crystals such as sapphire and zerodur®.


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