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Optical metrology offers techniques that can be used to control the deployment and servo-actuation of space-based reflectors, as well as to measure small deformations for earth-based applications. Because space-based devices operate in a hostile and remote environment, they must be robust and satisfy stringent hardware specifications (size, mass, and power consumption are particularly important). The need for optical hardware also imposes physical constraints. Conventional laser interferometry requires a computationally expensive fringe analysis to derive displacement data from the visual image of an object; the additional overhead that this imposes, in terms of both computing power and time, is a distinct disadvantage.

A recently developed double-exposure heterodyne interferometry technique for measuring line-of-sight displacement has the potential to significantly simplify this computational load.

The Tanner Labs innovation is to implement the core computation of double-exposure heterodyne interferometry using analog integrated circuitry, thereby bringing power consumption, size, and weight to an absolute minimum. The resulting technology promises to provide unprecedented terrestrial and space-based capabilities.

 

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