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Molex Polymicro technologies optical fibre onboard ICESat-2

Molex’s Polymicro Technologies optical fibre is being used to build NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2).
The satellite – planned to launch in 2017 – will measure changes in Earth features, from melting ice sheets and thinning sea ice to growing trees.

The specialty optical fibre from Molex will be used on board ICESat-2 and in Ground Support Equipment (GSE) assemblies that enable integration and testing. The custom fibres are composed of high OH glass/glass fibre, including a glass core, glass cladding layer, acrylate buffer and a protective Nylon outer jacket.

“We are extremely proud to be a part of this vital NASA project and look forward to continued collaboration on future projects,” said Gary MacDonald, technical sales supervisor, Molex. “Molex has an ongoing relationship with NASA Goddard and our optical fibre is currently in use on the Mars Rover Curiosity as well. We consider it an honour and a privilege to have been chosen to supply our custom fibre on such a remarkable venture.”

ICESat-2’s photon-counting laser altimeter will measure the round trip time of individual laser photons reflecting off the ground and returning to the satellite’s receiver telescopes at a rate of 10’000 laser pulses per second. By matching those times with the satellite’s precise location in space, the mission will determine the elevation of features on Earth.

The 3’483-pound ICESat-2 will have a design life of 3 years and enough fuel to operate for 7 years.


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