Laser scanning in space

Laser scanning in space

NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery landed safely from its recent mission thanks in part to laser scanning and beam-positioning technology from General Scanning, a member of the GSI Group of Billerica, Mass.

Laser scanning and beam-positioning technology from General Scanning made for a safe Space Shuttle landing.


NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery landed safely from its recent mission thanks in part to laser scanning and beam-positioning technology from General Scanning, a member of the GSI Group of Billerica, Mass. General Scanning supplied its technology to Neptec, the Ottawa, Ontario, company whose laser-camera system (LCS) provided 3D images of the spacecraft's heat-shield tiles. The system detects half-millimeter cracks in the Shuttle's tiles from a distance of up to four meters over the whole craft surface, allowing defects to be spotted prior to Shuttle re-entry.

Neptec's LCS uses a pair of ultrarugged, high-accuracy laserscanning galvanometers from General Scanning. These galvanometers survived the stress of lift off and the severe vibration of the Shuttle's ascent. They then accurately drove large mirrors for an image resolution of 350 to 500 microns.

According to Iain Christie of Neptec's business development and R&D, "Not only did the General Scanning's M2 galvo meet NASA's vibration specification, it ended up being pretty much indestructible. We shook it as hard as possible and couldn't destroy it."

In addition, the galvanometers had to operate in the vacuum of space without bearing lubricant out-gassing and contaminating mirror surfaces. Working together, General Scanning and Neptec qualified a dry lubricant as an alternative. www.gsig.com

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