Luna Innovations (NASDAQ: LUNA), a global leader in advanced optical technology, recently announced that it has successfully designed, qualified, and built the RIO® narrow-linewidth semiconductor laser to be used in the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Navigation Doppler LiDAR (light detection and ranging) system. The selection of Luna’s RIO laser highlights Luna’s unique capabilities in the development and production of rugged, high quality semiconductor lasers for emerging applications such as LiDAR.
The Navigation Doppler LiDAR (NDL) is being developed at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. LiDAR is a remote sensing method which helps determine the exact velocity and position of a spacecraft to assist in landing at the desired location on planetary surfaces. Using laser beams sent from the LiDAR system towards the surface, the beams’ detected reflections are processed to determine what direction the spacecraft is moving, how far away the surface is, and how fast the vehicle is moving towards the surface.