The department of Active Optical Systems (AOS) deals with laser-optical tracking of objects in the airspace and in Earth orbit and also develops and operates several stations and experimental systems for research purposes.
A greater focus of the research lies in the detection and analysis of orbital objects, as well as – based on this/ building on this – the use of high-performance laser technology for the orbital lowering and collision avoidance of space debris.
In order to achieve the associated goals, the department AOS operates deployable laser-optical ground stations and a large observatory within the framework of the scientific working group "Orbital Photonics" which enables the monitoring of space debris in the decimeter range. In addition to the operation of optical ground stations, the effect of laser radiation on space debris materials and the corresponding momentum transfer are being simulated, in order to use these laser-based methods in the future to increase safety in orbit.
An extremely compact and thus transportable ground station for locating cooperative (i.e. equipped with retroreflectors) satellites is also available as Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) System.
The objective of tracking objects in air space is the detection, trajectory analysis or protection of assets or facilities from small, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). A mobile, trailer-based research platform has been developed for this purpose.
Furthermore, the AOS department has expertise in the qualification of optical components that are used in space conditions, such as retroreflectors (CCR, Corner Cube Reflectors). According to ISO standards, the dielectric laser optics are subjected to standardized laser damage tests in a cleanroom or investigations for laser-induced contamination are carried out.