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Applications

Guidestar Optical Systems has focused its efforts on developing components and systems that are high-speed, compact, lightweight, rugged, and user friendly. We have designed and developed advanced optical solutions and systems for multiple applications, including:

Laser Communications

Free space laser communication brings the promise of wireless, very high bandwidth communication across great distances.  This promise can only be realized with the laser beam is free from wavefront errors since the ability of an optical system to tightly focus a laser beam is degraded when wavefront errors are present on the beam.  Adaptive optics systems sense and correct for these wavefront errors that limit performance of the communication system in terms of bandwidth and link distance.  

The free space laser communication field, after a prolonged down period, has seen significant growth since 2015.  Driving this growth is the commercial market that sees free space laser communications as a method to transmit data at very high bandwidths without having to worry about spectrum allocation.  Guidestar expects the market for free space laser communications to pick up significantly in the near term as the impacts from the recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spectrum auctions are felt within the Government and Commercial sectors. 

Guidestar is capable of supporting free space laser communications for both military and commercial use. This includes space-to-ground, space-to-air, air-to-air, air-to-ground, and ground-to-ground implementations. The company is also researching technologies for more challenging marine environments that include ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore, and even underwater optical transmissions.

High-Energy Laser Weapons

High-energy laser weapons bring the promise of speed of light defense with a low cost per shot as compared to conventional weapons; however, the effectiveness of the laser weapon in terms of kill range or kill time is degraded as the wavefront error increases.  The application of an adaptive optics systems enables the laser weapon to achieve its potential on the battlefield.

High energy laser systems typically need two types of adaptive optics systems, one for the fixing the internal wavefront error due to heat generation and one to correct for the atmospheric distortions encountered in propagation to the target.  Recent defense studies have identified directed energy laser weapons as part of the recommended solutions for both precision strike and area defense scenarios.

The US Army and US Navy have commissioned these studies, and they specifically call for the development of adaptive optics systems to enable the weapons to meet the effective kill range requirements.  Guidestar is well positioned to provide advanced beam control and adaptive optics solutions to both the US Army and US Navy led high energy laser weapon development programs.

Atmospheric Measurement & Forecasting

With the push for directed energy and free space lasercom systems to get to the field, atmospheric measurement and forecasting will be needed to accurately determine or predict the capability of these systems in the field.  Guidestar has developed and demonstrated several optical measurement technologies for providing optical turbulence strength.  These technologies are an extension of products and technologies that Guidestar has developed for other purposes.

Guidestar’s optical turbulence forecasting tool estimates and forecasts optical turbulence strength 24 to 48 hours in advance. This data, when combined with traditional weather data and information about the lasercom system, can be used to ensure the availability and reliability of the lasercom system by enabling proper selection of the active ground station and determination of the optimal data transmission rate which will maximize data throughput efficiency.

Based on our work to date, optical turbulence is now beginning to be considered for integration into commercial lasercom network planning tools. The tool will be deployed via a web-based processing architecture to provide worldwide forecasts using commercially available NWP forecast data (e.g., provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or by commercial companies).

Our potential non-governmental customers include space-to-ground lasercom providers and astronomical observatories.

Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR)

Imaging technology is a growing market where innovative approaches to improving resolution, image quality, or image storage requirements can open new markets to Guidestar Optical Systems.  With the increased reliance on remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs) to provide forward intelligence and projection of firepower, the requirements on long-range, high quality imaging will only increase and the market expand.

Additionally, adaptive optics can improve the ability of ground-based telescopes to surveil space-based assets. This includes observing US assets for threat assessments as well as tracking non-US, possibly hostile, assets. By improving performance of this ISR capability, we can protect battlespace on the ultimate high ground.

For commercial assets on-orbit, adaptive optics improve this type of observation capability so a satellite operator can monitor assets and diagnose operational issues that could be caused by misconfigured spacecraft, for example where a solar panel or antenna did not deploy properly.