June 14, 2021
Photons Canada news

Photonics is making News in Space

iXblue Photonics has expertise in complex photonics sensors they developed a dosimeter – a tool measuring radiation exposure – with two radio-sensitive optical fibre coils, measuring several kilometers at its heart. Called Lumina, the dosimeter is one of the few selected experiments of Thomas Pesquet’s Alpha Mission aboard the ISS that launched from Florida on 24th April, the French astronaut flew on the SpaceX Dragon module with NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide.

“Measuring radiation is a strategic issue for future farther space exploration and travel to ensure astronauts and equipment safety. Congratulations to the project team!” was stated in the post on LinkedIn issued by iXblue Photonics the manufacturer of the dosimeter.

Earlier this year we have witnessed the landing of the Mars Rover it had on board several photonics devices used for imaging, identification, and characterization of materials, not to mention solar cells that help generate power from the abundant light in space.

The Photonics spectra magazine ,2021 January edition contains an article titled “Photonic Return Charts Course for Laser-Ranging Experiments” detailing that NASA scientists have taken aim at the moon with high-power laser beams. Receiving even a faint signal back from the moon is a stark improbability: NASA estimates that a photon launched from Earth has about a 1-in-25-million chance of reaching the Apollo 11 reflector, which has been on the moon since 1969. The successfully acquired return signals have held considerable value. Just clocking the response time that it takes light sent from Earth to return from the moon has yielded important insights into Earth’s relationship with its nearest neighbor. This included the realization that the distance between the two bodies is widening and that the drift is happening at a rate of ~1.5 in. per year. This was a planetary laser-ranging first.

In the same magazine edition, another collaboration and prototype are worth highlighting. The prototype will be positioned on the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) Flight Facility portion of the ISS, where it can be used to observe atmospheric conditions at Earth’s “limb,” the visual edge of Earth as seen from space. The limb is studied by atmospheric scientists and provides insight into the structure of Earth’s atmosphere, the variation of concentrations of trace gases with altitude, and other data used for climate change assessments. Nanohmics Inc. in collaboration with the University of Maryland and the NASA Langley Research Center, will send a prototype compact hyperspectral imager to the International Space Station (ISS), where the imager will be tested for calibration. The launch will take place in 2021.

Link: Photonics has lift-off: French astronaut uses fibre-optic dosimeter to measure cosmic radiation (photonics21.org)

Link: Photonics at work – the Rover Perseverance – Photons Canada

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