ILSC 2007 Paper #904 (Automatic Aircraft Detection to Support Aircraft Spotters during Outdoor Laser Propagation)
Brian Smithgall, Image Labs International; Bozeman MT USA
Keith Wilson, Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Pasadena CA USA
Presented at ILSC 2007
Image Labs International, in conjunction with Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has developed a Sky Sentry system to support safe laser beam transmission through navigable air space in the area around future optical communications ground stations. The system consists of coupled near-field and wide field long wave infrared cameras (to support daytime and nighttime operation) that detect aircraft and other flying objects out to 3.4 miles. Designed to be boresighted with the transmitter telescope, the system serves as one part of a multi-tiered system and provides a trigger to activate a beam interrupt when an object is discerned to be at risk of intercepting the laser beam. The system has been operating at JPL's Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory (OCTL) for the past three years and serves as a compliment to aircraft spotters when propagating non-visible laser beams and during daytime operation when the laser beam is invisible against the sky background. The paper will present the detection concept and show data on its ability to detect various objects in operational scenarios.