Magnetometer satellites used to probe geomagnetism

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NKT Photonics has announced that its Koheras-branded DFB fibre lasers have been incorporated into absolute scalar magnetometers produced by the French national space agency CNES and French research agency CEA/LETI. The magnetometers were selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) for use in its Swarm mission. These instruments were designed, manufactured and space qualified by CEA-LETI in France in close partnership with CNES.

The Koheras DFB fibre lasers characterised by very low frequency and intensity noise and by inherent single frequency operation, making them suitable for applications that demand a high spectral stability. The lasers were investigated by CEA-LETI due to their ability to match the helium transition line at 1,083nm. The objective of the Swarm mission conducted by the ESA is to provide the best ever survey of the geomagnetic field and its temporal evolution, and gain new insights into improving our knowledge of the Earth's interior and climate. The Swarm mission consists of a constellation of three identical satellites, in three different polar orbits between 400 and 550km altitude, which measure the Earth's magnetic field. The mission will be launched in 2012 as part of the ESA's Earth Explorer Programme. High-precision and high-resolution measurements of the strength and direction of the Earth's magnetic field will be provided by each satellite, allowing scientists to model the various sources of the geomagnetic field.

'We have come to this stage after more than 10 years of collaboration with CEA-LETI, during which we have contributed unpackaged DFB fibre lasers, and we are very proud to deliver a critical part for such a cutting edge application,' says Søren Løvgreen, sales manager for Koheras fibre lasers. 'Our fibre laser technology has the capability to meet the requirements of the most demanding applications.'

This is the second time Koheras fibre lasers have been selected for a space program: NASA used a Koheras fibre laser module in its space-born High Spectral Resolution LIDAR (HSRL) mission for measuring cloud and aerosol properties that are relevant for climate research.