NASA – Mars Orbiter Laser Altimiter

Client: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / MOLA

Project: Automate the operation of a complex array of lab equipment to simulate the returns seen by a space-based laser rangefinder.

Solution: We helped design an electro-optical test station that integrated an optical detector, laser transmitter, digital waveform generator, digital oscilloscope, and assorted other hardware. We wrote LabView code for the controller PC, which sequenced the operation of various instruments. The PC also communicated with the master test computer, which in turn controlled the satellite instrument during all phases of testing. The local PC executed the test sequence, crunched the resulting data, and presented a real-time “dashboard” view to the test technician. The system also included a data storage and playback mode which enabled scientists and engineers to review the data.