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Proceedings Paper

Aspects of laser optics qualification for space applications
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Paper Abstract

As a consequence of the ongoing interest for deployment of laser systems into space, suitable optical components have to be developed and must be extensively space qualified to ensure reliable, continuous, and autonomous operation. The exposure to space environment can adversely affect the longevity of optics, mainly coatings, and lead to system degradation. An increased operational risk is due to the air-vacuum effect, which can strongly reduce the laser damage resistance of optical coatings. For this purpose, a vacuum laser damage test bench has been developed and is operated at DLR. In extensive test campaigns, all damage-prone optics of the ALADIN laser system (being the laser source of the upcoming ESA ADM Aeolus mission) were tested under operative conditions at the fundamental and at the harmonic wavelengths of Nd:YAG. Further operational risks are due directly to operation under high vacuum. In the past, several space-based laser missions have suffered from anomalous performance loss or even failure after short operation times. This degradation is due to selective contamination of laser-exposed optical surfaces fed by outgassing constituents. These volatile components are omnipresent in vacuum vessels. Various organic and inorganic species were tested at our facilities for their criticality on deposit built-up. Finally, active optical components like Q-switch crystals or frequency converter crystals can also suffer from bulk absorption induced by high-energy radiation (gray tracking) and dehydration. To analyze these effects, an ultrahigh vacuum phase matching unit was set up to test various combinations of SHG and THG frequency converters.

Paper Details

Date Published: 31 December 2009
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 7504, Laser-Induced Damage in Optical Materials: 2009, 75040T (31 December 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.837384
Show Author Affiliations
Wolfgang Riede, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (Germany)
Paul Allenspacher, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (Germany)
Helmut Schröder, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (Germany)
Peter Mahnke, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (Germany)
Gabriela Paunescu, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (Germany)
Denny Wernham, ESA / ESTEC (Netherlands)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7504:
Laser-Induced Damage in Optical Materials: 2009
Gregory J. Exarhos; Vitaly E. Gruzdev; Detlev Ristau; M. J. Soileau; Christopher J. Stolz, Editor(s)

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