In 2017, the US FAA received 6,754 individual reports of lasers being purposely aimed at their pilots as they flew in to land at different airports. Theses laser strikes have long been a concern for aviation authorities across the world. Due to the immense danger posed to human life, where a pilot potentially can lose visibility of the approaching runway, the aiming of lasers at aircraft is illegal in many countries, with the threat of prosecution for those found guilty of the offence. This has presented local and federal authorities with a challenge of identifying the origin of the strikes, with less than 1% of perpetrators in the US ever being tracked down.
Now a team from MIT Lincoln Laboratory has developed a ground-based solution that may provide an answer to this problem, helping to quickly identify the individuals involved and bring them to justice. The new Laser Aircraft Strike Suppression Optical System (LASSOS), which features ANDOR’s highly sensitive iXon EMCCD cameras, is a ground-based sensor system that can accurately identify the origin of the strike and subsequently enable local law-enforcement to launch a rapid and targeted response.
When a laser is pointed into the sky, a small fraction of the light is scattered by molecules and aerosols in the air which forms a residual streak in the laser's path. The system works by using the EMCCD cameras to image the scattered light from different viewpoints, providing enough data to digitally reconstruct the laser streak in three dimensions. With the calculated coordinates of the laser’s origin, the team can instantly pinpoint the precise location of the strike on Google Earth for the response teams to engage and apprehend.
Although still in prototype, the LASSOS team, a collaboration between the Laser Technology & Applications and the Air Traffic Control Systems group at Lincoln Laboratory, believe the technology will significantly increase laser strike origin detection and perpetrator apprehension.
Click here to know more about ANDOR’s IXON EMCCD Cameras.