NASA to develop a more capable miniaturized Spectrometer in the Telecommunication industry

Press Release

NASA has developed a technology that collects details from extraterrestrial planets, moons, comets asteroids. It has enhanced the delivery of data across the internet and other telecommunications platforms. Its size is similar to that of a computer chip but there are enhancements to make it a little smaller and lighter in weight. This will enable it to consume less power, lower its cost, allow scientists to fly around and not forgetting, to operate without moving parts.  

Like Millah, the technology will enhance the display of perfect pictures for planetary studies in that; 

  1. The pictures would be tuned to the mid inferred wavelengths (this is an ideal frequency for sensing carbon dioxide, methane, water among other components found in the extraterrestrial atmosphere. 
  2. The pictures would split mid-infrared light into component colors (spectroscopy). This reveals vast information about the composition and properties of that particular object(s). 

Tony Yu, technologists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt and his team have adopted new techniques that originally were used by the telecommunications company. The techniques will help fit the instrument inside a CubeSat. Actually, what is being done is adopting telecom technologies to be used in space.

In one of his strategies in his PICASSO award, Yu and his team are focusing on a chip-sized device known as the PIC spectrometer. Inspired by the telecom industry’s arrayed waveguide gratings, the device seems to be very critical to their systems. 

Functions of Arrayed Waveguide Gratings (AWGs)

  1. They help in consolidating multiple signals from both analog and digital wavelengths into one single optic fiber. 
  2. Demultiplexing. This is where individual channels receive optical communication from waveguides. 

With the two-stepped procedure, several channels can now share a resource, which is a fiber optic cable. The channels will experience reduced interference and cross talk while increasing their efficiency and the pace of telecommunications signals. 

Tony Yu team has a plan of adopting a chip-sized PIC spectrometer that is equipped with telecommunications waveguides, this will enable the separation of light into mid-infrared wavelength-This determines the molecular composition of planetary atmospheres and surfaces. Through the process of heterodyning, the technique amplifies signals.

This effort will enable the team to develop a PIC spectrometer ideal for detecting carbon monoxide. One of the goals under PICASSO is to raise the device’s technology readiness level. NASA uses this scale to determine the readiness of the technology for use in space. Through lighter advancement of the instrument, it is therefore capable of detecting molecular compounds beyond carbon monoxide.

“This instrument really excites us,” said Mike Krainak the former head of Goddard’s laser and electro-optic branch. “It’s really technology is a bright future.

This post was originally published on Financial Sector

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