Abstract

The coherent launch-site atmospheric wind sounder (CLAWS) is a lidar atmospheric wind sensor designed to measure the winds above space launch facilities to an altitude of 20 km. In our development studies, lidar sensor requirements are defined, a system to meet those requirements is defined and built, and the concept is evaluated, with recommendations for the most feasible and cost-effective lidar system for use as an input to a guidance and control system for missile or spacecraft launches. The ability of CLAWS to meet NASA goals for increased safety and launch/mission flexibility is evaluated in a field test program at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in which we investigate maximum detection range, refractive turbulence, and aerosol backscattering efficiency. The Nd:YAG coherent lidar operating at 1.06 μm with 1-J energy per pulse is able to make real-time measurements of the three-dimensional wind field at KSC to an altitude of 26 km, in good agreement with our performance simulations. It also shows the height and thickness of the volcanic layer caused by the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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