Doctorate in Applied and Engineering Physics  

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Thesis Proposal for the

Doctorate Program in Applied and Engineering Physics (DAEPHYS)

Starting in the Academic Year 2016/2017

Proposal 020

Title:The design and construction of the telescope system for the AIM satellite laser altimeter and Meteorite shape mapper
Objectives (recommended length: 2000-3000 char):
Objectives (recommended length: 2000-3000 char):

The ESA satellite AIM, to be launched in 2020, will study asteroid systems and characterize its dynamical state and physical properties. A close to Earth encounter of the binary asteroid 65803 Didymos (1996 GT) in October 2022 provides the optimal target for such a mission.

One of the instrumentation requirements of AIM is to include an altimeter based on an optical laser that has a vertical and horizontal surface resolution of 1 m or better to accurately position the AIM spacecraft. The optical system will also provide accurate measurements of the 3D shape of Didymoon.

EFACEC has been the prime contractor for the ESA activity centered on the development of an RADAR and Laser Altimeter for small landing platforms. This Altimeter is to be used in several missions including future MARS landers. In the framework of this project EFACEC has previously subcontracted the development of the microchip laser pulsed diode to FCUL/CENTRA group.

The main objective of this Ph.D proposal is to design, develop, assembly and test in flight environment, a laser altimeter optical head (engineering model) that will have a maximum commonality with the processing hardware and software of the Altimeter being developed by EFACEC and is to be used in the ESA AIM satellite. The laser altimeter optical head development will have to overcame the stringent requirements of space hardware development (e.g. low mass, radiation resistance, launch vibrations, thermal load,…). It is expected that this challenges will be overpassed through innovative designs of the optics system.

The optical design and prototype assembly and verification will be carried out by FCUL and the integration with the EFACEC processing hardware and software will be carried out at EFACEC. The in flight testing will also be carried out within the supervision of the EFACEC team.

Besides the direct control by EFACEC of the final integration and testing phases of the project, the close collaboration between the two institutions must be a constant priority since the beginning to ensure the hardware and software compatibility of the Laser altimeter board.

The project is envisaged to use the microchip laser already being developed by FCUL in the framework of a previous project with EFACEC.

The Ph.D work will benefit both from the long term expertise in imaging optics by the FCUL team and the space electronics and control software by EFACEC space.

The laser altimeter prototype design and assembly is planned to be developed with 2 years and the integration, both with the microchip laser and the EFACEC electronics and detector system is planned for the third year. The validation and testing will be carried out in the last year of the ph.d program.

Framework (recommended length: 500-2000 char):
The project will be carried out under the framework of the EFACEC ESA altimeter development project with the optical development, construction and integration taking place at FCUL.
As a subcontract of the EFACEC main project it will be supported by funding thought the ESA space program.

The mechanical and optical design will follow the well established path of previous projected carried out by the FCUL/CENTRA team.

The optical design and breadboard assembly and verification will be carried out by FCUL and the integration with the EFACEC processing hardware and software will be carried out at EFACEC.
The in flight testing will also be carried out within the supervision of the EFACEC team.
Tasks (recommended length: 1000-3000 char):
1- Finalize and review the specifications of the laser altimeter for the ESA AIM mission. Define, in particular, the specifications of the interfaces (mechanical, optical and electronic) with the light emitting microchip laser and the fast detector system hardware.
a) - Define in particular if one should use the two telescope approach (one for the laser and one for observation) or the single telescope approach is being used.
b) Define the beam splitting interface to the emitted light that will enable the accurate definition of the time of start of pulse flight.
c) Design and optimize the optical system for a definite focal length and the field of view.
d) Evaluate a propose a mechanical support system solution that can accommodate the defined temperature variation for the satellite without relevant changes in the system focal distances.

2- Define, procure and manufacture the system components.

3- Integrate and pre-validate the system at FCUL.

4- Integrate the board at EFACEC with the detector system and the electronics and control software components. Validate with laboratory tests.

5- Define with EFACEC the in flight test program, follow the tests and analyze the results.
Research centre/lab or R&D unit hosting the thesis project:
CENTRA-SIM and Faculdade de Ciencias da Universidade de Lisboa and EFACEC SPACE
University to which the thesis project will be presented:
FC/UL - Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa
DAEPHYS Scientific Domain in which the project fits:
Relation of the project to the Scientific Domains of DAEPHYS:
The proposed work program develops instrumentation for a future ESA satellite including core optical system development, integration and testing. The testing procedures will include electronics integration and instrumentation control software optimization.
The space environment validation and the ambitious specifications will provide the appropriate framework for innovation.
Candidate profile:
This is an ambitious Ph.D. project that must be carried out without significate delay, in order to accommodate the very tight schedule of the AIM mission. The candidate must be very motivated, have some experience in instrumentation, be familiar with the tools of mechanical design, stress and thermal simulation.
Does this proposal involve more than one University?:
Synergies between the two Universities participating in the proposal:
DAEPHYS strongly encourages the presentation of thesis projects in co-supervision by researchers from two of the universities participating in the Program. In this field, explain the benefits resulting from the proposed co-supervision and the involvement of elements from the two universities, e.g. building critical mass teams, profiting from existing infrastructures or advanced equipments, profiting from expert technical know-how, etc. If the proposal involves only one University, write n/a.
(recommended length: 500-1000 char)
Does this proposal involve a company?:
Proposals involving a company:
DAEPHYS strongly encourages the presentation of thesis projects involving a company, preferably a high-tech company. These proposals have to: 1) be centered on a technological problem in which the partner company has been (or plan / would like to be) involved; 2) have a co-supervisor on the enterprise; 3) include part of the project to be carried out in the company.
(recommended length: 500-1000 char)
: The RADAR/LIDAR development for ESA, from which the present proposal spins off, is a core project for EFACEC space.
The Engineers João Costa Pinto and Arlindo Marques, that act as co-advisers have core management and development responsibilities at EFACEC space.



Name:Antonio Amorim
Institution:Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa and CENTRA
link to CV or indication of ORCID ID:



Name:Paulo Romeu Gordo
Institution:Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa and CENTRA
link to CV or indication of ORCID ID:



Name:João Costa Pinto & Arlindo Marques
Institution:Efacec space &
link to CV or indication of ORCID ID:


Uploaded PDF document: proposal-020.pdf