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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: Andrew M. Weiner
  • Vol. 22, Iss. 9 — May. 5, 2014
  • pp: 11351–11366

Laser link acquisition demonstration for the GRACE Follow-On mission

Danielle M. R. Wuchenich, Christoph Mahrdt, Benjamin S. Sheard, Samuel P. Francis, Robert E. Spero, John Miller, Conor M. Mow-Lowry, Robert L. Ward, William M. Klipstein, Gerhard Heinzel, Karsten Danzmann, David E. McClelland, and Daniel A. Shaddock  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 22, Issue 9, pp. 11351-11366 (2014)

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We experimentally demonstrate an inter-satellite laser link acquisition scheme for GRACE Follow-On. In this strategy, dedicated acquisition sensors are not required—instead we use the photodetectors and signal processing hardware already required for science operation. To establish the laser link, a search over five degrees of freedom must be conducted (± 3 mrad in pitch/yaw for each laser beam, and ± 1 GHz for the frequency difference between the two lasers). This search is combined with a FFT-based peak detection algorithm run on each satellite to find the heterodyne beat note resulting when the two beams are interfered. We experimentally demonstrate the two stages of our acquisition strategy: a ± 3 mrad commissioning scan and a ± 300 μrad reacquisition scan. The commissioning scan enables each beam to be pointed at the other satellite to within 142 μrad of its best alignment point with a frequency difference between lasers of less than 20 MHz. Scanning over the 4 alignment degrees of freedom in our commissioning scan takes 214 seconds, and when combined with sweeping the laser frequency difference at a rate of 88 kHz/s, the entire commissioning sequence completes within 6.3 hours. The reacquisition sequence takes 7 seconds to complete, and optimizes the alignment between beams to allow a smooth transition to differential wavefront sensing-based auto-alignment.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(120.1880) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Detection
(120.3180) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Interferometry
(120.3930) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Metrological instrumentation
(120.6085) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Space instrumentation

ToC Category:
Instrumentation, Measurement, and Metrology

Original Manuscript: March 25, 2014
Manuscript Accepted: April 22, 2014
Published: May 2, 2014

Danielle M. R. Wuchenich, Christoph Mahrdt, Benjamin S. Sheard, Samuel P. Francis, Robert E. Spero, John Miller, Conor M. Mow-Lowry, Robert L. Ward, William M. Klipstein, Gerhard Heinzel, Karsten Danzmann, David E. McClelland, and Daniel A. Shaddock, "Laser link acquisition demonstration for the GRACE Follow-On mission," Opt. Express 22, 11351-11366 (2014)

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