INO Across the Universe

Client: GEDI

On December 5th, 2018, the SpaceX Commercial Resupply Mission 16 was launched from Cape Canaveral. Did you know there was a little bit of INO on board?

The mission carried GEDI into the Dragon capsule and it was deployed on the International Space Station (ISS) for a two-year mission. The name stands for Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation and its mission is to produce high resolution laser ranging observations of the 3D structure of the Earth. GEDI’s precise measurements of forest canopy height, canopy vertical structure, and surface elevation will greatly advance our ability to characterize important carbon and water cycling processes, biodiversity, and habitat. With this instrument, we will be able to have the first high resolution laser ranging observations of the 3D structure of the Earth.

The HOMER class laser design used on the GEDI mission employs INO GRM (Graded Reflectivity Mirror) in a linear oscillator-only cavity. This allows the laser system to have high output power (approximately 4 – 5 W at 242 Hz) with a low optical part count, and a robust reliability for space flight applications when compared to other systems. We already knew our GRM could stand in space but with this mission, it confirms to us the high quality of our technology.

Thanks to GEDI, we will better understand how the Earth behaves. The data collected will help numerous domains including water resource management, weather prediction, forest management, and geomorphometry. This will help scientists, resource managers and many more who are working on subjects such as flood risk from storms, fresh-water supplies, forest resources and biodiversity conservation.

GEDI has the highest resolution and densest sampling of any lidar ever put in orbit and INO is very proud to be a part of this mission with our GRM technology.

GEDI mission is a collaboration between the National Academy of Sciences and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. 

***This article is possible thanks to GEDI and NASA***

Using a GRM allows us to more precisely control the mode size inside and outside the cavity. Without a GRM, we would not be able to achieve a TEM00 far field beam and therefore not be able to make accurate measurements for the GEDI mission.