Abstract

An automatic laser tracking and ranging system has been developed for use with cooperative retroreflective targets. Target position is determined with high precision at ranges out to 19 km and sample rates up to one hundred measurements per second. The data are recorded on a magnetic tape in the form of azimuth, elevation, range, and standard time and are computer-compatible. The system is fully automatic with the exception of the initial acquisition sequence, which is performed manually. This eliminates the need for expensive and time-consuming photographic data reduction. Also, position is uniquely determined by a single instrument. To provide convenient operation at remote sites, the system is van-mounted and operates off a portable power generator. The transmitter is a flash-pumped Q-spoiled Nd:YAG laser developing 1 MW peak power in a 10-mrad beam at a rate of 100 pps. The beam, which is coaxial with the receiver, is directed to the target by an azimuth-elevation mirror mount. The return beam is imaged on separate ranging and tracking receivers. The ranging receiver measures time of flight of the 25-nsec laser pulse with range accuracies of ±15 cm. The tracking receiver uses a quadrant photodiode followed by matched log video amplifiers and achieves a tracking accuracy of ±0.1 mrad. An optical dynamic range of 30 dB is provided to minimize error due to scintillation. Also, 80 dB of optical dynamic range is provided by adjustable neutral density filters to compensate for changes in target range.

© 1972 Optical Society of America

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