OSA's Digital Library

Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Editor: James C. Wyant
  • Vol. 47, Iss. 27 — Sep. 20, 2008
  • pp: 5007–5019

Intersatellite range monitoring using optical interferometry

R. Pierce, J. Leitch, M. Stephens, P. Bender, and R. Nerem  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 47, Issue 27, pp. 5007-5019 (2008)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (4568 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



We report on an interferometer designed to provide 1 10 nm / Hz displacement measurement resolution, in the range 0.01 Hz to 1 Hz , while in low Earth orbit. The interferometer comprises two units, each with its own laser and in separate satellites, which would be in the same orbit separated by approximately 50 km . We discuss the requirements on the interferometer subsystem and describe the optical transponder distance measurement, including a phase locking method to generate a heterodyne beat signal between the two lasers. Design, fabrication, and testing of a “flightlike” engineering model interferometer is outlined, and results from environmental and performance tests are reported.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(120.3180) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Interferometry
(120.5050) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Phase measurement
(220.1000) Optical design and fabrication : Aberration compensation
(350.4600) Other areas of optics : Optical engineering

ToC Category:
Instrumentation, Measurement, and Metrology

Original Manuscript: June 9, 2008
Manuscript Accepted: August 8, 2008
Published: September 18, 2008

R. Pierce, J. Leitch, M. Stephens, P. Bender, and R. Nerem, "Intersatellite range monitoring using optical interferometry," Appl. Opt. 47, 5007-5019 (2008)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. B. D. Tapley, S. Bettadpur, J. C. Ries, P. F. Thompson, and M. M. Watkins, “GRACE measurements of mass variability in the Earth system,” Science 305, 503-505 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. I. Velicogna and J. Wahr, “Measurements of time-variable gravity show mass loss in Antarctica,” Science 311, 1754-1756 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  3. Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the Future, National Research Council, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond (National Academies Press, 2007).
  4. M. M. Watkins, W. M. Folkner, B. Chao, and B. D. Tapley, “EX-5: a laser interferometer mission follow-on to the GRACE mission,” presented at GGG2000, Banff, Canada, 31 July-5 August 2000.
  5. S. Nagano, T. Yoshino, H. Kunimori, M. Hososkawa, S. Kawamura, T. Sato, and M.I Ohkawa, “Displacement measuring technique for satellite-to-satellite laser interferometer to determine Earth's gravity field,” Meas. Sci. Technol. 15, 2406-2411 (2004). [CrossRef]
  6. P. L. Bender, J. L. Hall, J. Ye, and W. M. Klipstein, “Satellite-satellite laser links for future gravity missions,” Space Sci. Rev. 108, 377-384 (2003). [CrossRef]
  7. The definition of TRL6 is: “TRL 6 System/subsystem model or prototyping demonstration in a relevant end-to-end environment (ground or space): Prototyping implementations on full-scale realistic problems. Partially integrated with existing systems. Limited documentation available. Engineering feasibility fully demonstrated in actual system application.”
  8. Commercial heterodyne metrology interferometers have been available for many years. The primary difference in this work is the use of two entirely separate lasers.
  9. B. C. Young, F. C. Cruz, W. M. Itano, and J. C. Bergquist, “Visible lasers with subhertz linewidths,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 82, 3799-3711 (1999). [CrossRef]
  10. S. A. Webster, M. Oxborrow, and P. Gill, “Subherz-linewidth Nd:YAG laser,” Opt. Lett. 29, 1497 -1499 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  11. M. Notcutt, L. S. Ma, J. Ye, and J. L. Hall, “Simple and compact 1-Hz laser system via an improved mounting configuration of a reference cavity.” Opt. Lett. 30, 1815-1817 (2005). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  12. “Final technical report (FTR) of the (phase A) study of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (Dornier Satellitensysteme GmbH-Matra Marconi Space-Alenia Aerospazio),” ESTEC contract 13631/99/NL/MS, Rep. LI-RP-CD-009ESTEC (April 2000).
  13. M. Stephens, R. Pierce, J. Leitch, R. S. Nerem, P. Bender, B. Loomis, M. Watkins, and B. Folkner, “Development of an interferometric laser ranging system for a follow-on gravity mission to GRACE,” GRACE Science Team Meeting, San Francisco, California, 8-9 December 2006.
  14. J. Haisma, N. Hattu, J. T. C. M. Pulles, E. Steding, and J. C. G. Vervest, “Direct bonding and beyond,” Appl. Opt. 46, 6793-6803 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited