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NASA Picks Luna’s RIO Laser for Navigation Doppler LiDAR

Luna Innovations
Luna Innovations

NASA has selected the Luna Innovations-built RIO semiconductor laser for use in its Navigation Doppler light detection and ranging system.

The Navigation Doppler LiDAR is a remote sensing tool that could help determine a spacecraft’s exact position and velocity to facilitate landing operations on planetary surfaces and is being developed at the space agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, Luna said Thursday.

“To precisely measure the vehicle speed, direction, and distance, our NDL system uses both Doppler shift and laser beam travel time, which requires a highly stable single-frequency laser source,” said Farzin Amzajerdian, NDL principal investigator from NASA Langley Research Center. “The RIO laser from Luna Innovations has met NASA’s requirements for high reliability, low noise, and ultra-narrow linewidth.”

The RIO laser has completed a series of qualification tests and will fly aboard two Commercial Lunar Payload Service missions to assist in landing robotic vehicles on the lunar surface in 2021 and in early 2022. The laser was also part of NASA’s Precision Lunar Landing Technology demonstration that launched aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket in October.

“Ultimately, the goal of the NDL is to safely land the next man and first woman on the moon in 2024, and we’re proud to play a part in this historic effort,” said Scott Graeff, president and CEO of Luna Innovations.

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Written by Jane Edwards

is a staff writer at Executive Mosaic, where she writes for ExecutiveBiz about IT modernization, cybersecurity, space procurement and industry leaders’ perspectives on government technology trends.

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