Design, Development, and In-flight Testing of a Pointer/tracker for In-flight Experiments to Measure Aero-optical Effects over a Scaled Turret

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We address the design, development, and testing of a pointer/tracker as a probe beam for the purpose of making high-speed, aero-optical measurements of the flow over a scaled beam director turret. The tracker uses retro-reflection of the probe beam off of a Reflexite annulus surrounding the turret. The constraints of the design required a near-total-commercial off the shelf system that could be quickly installed and removed in a rented aircraft. Baseline measurements of environmental vibrations are used to predict pointing performance; mitigation of line-of-sight jitter on the probe beam is achieved through passive isolation and the design of relay optics. Accommodation of ambient light is made with the use of wavelength filters and track algorithms. Postanalysis of measured data is compared to design estimates.


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Optical Engineering