Low-noise frequency synthesis and picosecond timing for satellite laser ranging systems

Kolbl, Josef Karl (2001) Low-noise frequency synthesis and picosecond timing for satellite laser ranging systems. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The main aims of the research are to develop various high-speed hardware circuits based on the latest electronic devices and integrated circuit technologies to provide time measurement with one picosecond accuracy, thereby enabling the development of a satellite laser ranging (SLR) system with submillimeter precision.
Different types of oscillators and frequency multipliers have been developed (RF and microwave) in order to provide a synchronous and low phase noise clock signal to the SLR timing system, which is phase-locked to the Universal Time Clock (UTC). A technique to quantify phase noise in signal sources is presented and verified. The development of the ranging system encompasses the analog timing verniers, the digital timing system, acquisition and processing of the ranging data, and the controlling of the peripherals, like the laser. The mixed analog/digital timing system architecture provides a time interval determination of two events with picosecond accuracy. Optical calibration techniques and an electronic timing calibration technique were developed to provide calibration of the timing system down to one picosecond accuracy and femtoseconds of resolution, traceable to the International Standard (speed of light, metric standard).
The work done has led to several electronic modules for measuring precisely laser runtimes to artificial satellites and to the Moon which are now in successful and permanent operation in five SLR stations around Tokyo, one SLR station in Australia, and one SLR station in Germany. Furthermore, the work has produced three papers and two patents and won the First Prize
of Innovation Awards from Deggendorf Government.
The research and development work pushed the picosecond timing technology to an extent where the SLR stations in Australia, Tokyo and Germany now have a significant improvement in their ranging data accuracy in comparison to their previous timing equipment, thereby achieving more precise environmental monitoring.

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