Space Dynamics Laboratory Awarded Patent for a Vibration Tolerant Satellite Interferometry

April 5, 2017 | Space Dynamics Laboratory

COLORADO SPRINGS – The Utah State University Research Foundation’s Space Dynamics Laboratory announced at the 33rd Space Symposium today that it has been awarded a patent for the Dall Carriage – a ruggedized interferometer optical carriage, with reduced sensitivity to cryocooler and flight induced vibrations.

The monolithic design was developed to have superior tolerance to vibration and thermal variations than previous systems.  This is particularly important for space borne, air borne and other mobile applications. The unique design of the carriage produces a more vibration tolerant system for interferometers.  SDL employees Kendall Johnson and Greg Hopkins invented the hardware.

“Interferometers are used to measure the spectral content of light by splitting and recombining the light to create an interference pattern, which can be measured and analyzed to produce spectral signatures.  These spectral measurements are used in various applications including determining atmospheric chemical and physical properties such as temperature, pressure, and velocity, target recognition, and chemical signature detection,” said Johnson.  “The reduced sensitivity to vibration of mobile and space-borne interferometers is essential for accurately measuring the spectral properties of various sources.”

Johnson said that working in the harsh environment of space possesses unusual engineering challenges. The Dall Carriage was invented because we saw a need for spectral instruments with reduced sensitivity to vibration and thermal drift for collecting interferometric data with higher fidelity.

The Space Dynamics Laboratory has a long history of innovating systems to benefit the Department of Defense and industry in defending and protecting our nation as well as supporting NASA’s vision to reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.

“SDL constantly strives to find better solutions to meet the needs of our customers for current and future programs,” said Hopkins. “A high precision linear motion stage for interferometry that is insensitive to cryocooler vibration and thermal shock fills one of these needs.”

“This patent award is an example of the dedication of the men and women of the Space Dynamics Laboratory who enable our customers to succeed with their missions while offering innovative solutions that have not existed before,” said Niel Holt, director of the Space Dynamics Laboratory. “For 58 years, SDL has been a committed partner to both the defense and science communities and we continue to provide innovative solutions with electro-optical sensing technologies in the near ultra violet to far infrared wavelengths.”

As a nonprofit unit of the Utah State University Research Foundation, SDL has been solving the technical challenges faced by the military, science community, and industry since 1959. SDL is one of 14 University Affiliated Research Centers that provide and maintain core capabilities for the Department of Defense. SDL’s core competencies include electro-optical sensor systems research and development; ground, airborne, and space rated instruments and payloads development, test and evaluation, integration, validation, and operations; data compression/decompression and data visualization for sensor analysis, data exploitation and data fusion; phenomenology measurements modeling and simulation; sensor modeling and simulation; and small/micro satellite sensor systems and components. For more information, visit