The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) performed a measurement campaign together in April and July 2016 at Teide-Observatory (Tenerife), with the support of the European Space Agency (ESA), to investigate the use of laser guide stars (LGS) in ground to space optical communications. Atmospheric turbulence causes strong signal fluctuations in the uplink, due to scintillation and beam wander. In space communications, the use of the downlink channel as reference for pointing and for pre-distortion adaptive optics is limited by the size of the isokinetic and isoplanatic angle in relation to the required point-ahead angle. Pointing and phase errors due to the decorrelation between downward and upward beam due to the point-ahead angle may have a severe impact on the required transmit power and the stability of the communications link. LGSs provide a self-tailored reference to any optical ground-to-space link, independently of turbulence conditions and required point-ahead angle. In photon-starved links, typically in deep-space scenarios, LGSs allow dedicating all downlink received signal to communications purposes, increasing the available link margin. The scope of the joint DLR-ESO measurement campaign was, first, to measure the absolute value of the beam wander (uplink-tilt) using a LGS, taking a natural star as a reference, and, second, to characterize the decrease of correlation between uplink-tilt and downlink-tilt with respect to the angular separation between both sources. This paper describes the experiments performed during the measurement campaigns, providing an overview of the measured data and the first outcomes of the data post-processing.
Ramon Mata-Calvo, Domenico Bonaccini Calia, Ricardo Barrios, Mauro Centrone, Dirk Giggenbach, Gianluca Lombardi, Peter Becker, and Igor Zayer, "Laser guide stars for optical free-space communications," Proc. SPIE 10096, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXIX, 100960R (Presented at SPIE LASE: January 31, 2017; Published: 24 February 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2256666.
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