In 2008, the DLR founded a new optical test range (Laserfreistrahlstrecke FSS) at its Lampoldshausen test site. The test facility covers fundamental experiments on the atmospheric propagation of laser radiation and on remote laser effects. Advanced structures for supply and measuring systems are explicitly designed for a broad spectrum of applications. A sophisticated conception paves the way to a multitude of combinations of laser, measuring systems or complex receivers. Modern video technique and remote control complement the structural measures for laser safety and allow for detailed information on the experiments. In addition to the R&D activities of the institute, the optical test range is provided for external clients. If requested, it is adapted to the different tasks in terms of structure, environmental diagnostics, and available laser systems.
The geodetic position of the optical test range is 49°17'N and 9°22'E at an altitude of 300 m above sea level. The propagation path is fed above an asphalt route of 130 m length. The distance for atmospheric propagation can be increased up to the kilometre range by optical folding of the laser beam. The maximum tracking width is 12 m.
An air conditioned transmitting station and a receiving station are the structural boundaries at the start and the end of the propagation path. Each station is equipped with 100 kW of electrical power and an additional uninterruptible power supply (UPS). Earth walls on both sides of the propagation path protect the region outside the test range against direct or indirect laser radiation. The energy supply along the propagation path is completed by three energy columns delivering 30 kW of electrical power, each.
The central data acquisition system with more than 300 analogues and digital measuring channels and sampling rates up to 1 kHz can be extended by independent measuring devices. These devices can optionally be operated on-site or remote controlled via Ethernet connections. A GBit-network provides 48 ports in each station and additional 3 ports per energy supply column. The central control room is supplied by further 96 ports. A video network covers PTZ cameras for safety monitoring, experiment surveillance and interpretation of the data. KHz high speed video technique is a further tool for detailed evaluation.
Ongoing experiments are concerned with atmospheric propagation of laser radiation with continuous measurement of the optical turbulence. The present focus of the R&D activities is the development and test of efficient methods for the laser-based standoff detection of harmful or hazardous substances. Further activities are concerned with experiments on high resolution imaging, pointing and tracking, particle image velocimetry, and pre-tests for the space situation awareness.