UBCs sodium lidar system generated its first laser light on December 13, 2007. The image to the right shows the Sirah dye laser undergoing final adjustments. Green 532 nm light, produced by a Nd:YAG pump laser, enters from the left where it is redirected to the two dye cells in the foreground (the orange tubes circulate the dye through these cells). Between the cells is a tunable optical cavity. The yellow 589 nm light produced by stimulated emission from the dye can be seen in the foreground. The system produces pulses of laser radiation with a duration of about 6 ns and a repetition rate of 50 Hz. The mean output power was measured to be 5.8 W. This corresponds to an impressive 20 MW of peak power.
The sodium lidar will be used in conjunction with the 6-meter Large Zenith Telescope to measure time variability of the Earth's mesospheric sodium layer. The resulting data will be important for the design of the Thirty Meter Telescope adaptive optics system.
For more information, please visit the LZT Lidar web site.