The satellite market is shifting towards smaller (micro and nanosatellites), lowered mass and increased performance platforms. Nanosatellites and picosatellites have been used for a number of new, innovative and unique payloads and missions. This trend requires new concepts for a reduced size, a better performance/weight ratio and a reduction of onboard power consumption. In this context, disruptive technologies, such as laser-optical communication systems, are opening new possibilities. This paper presents the C3PO1 system, “advanced Concept for laser uplink/ downlink CommuniCation with sPace Objects”, and the first results of the development of its key technologies. This project targets the design of a communications system that uses a ground-based laser to illuminate a satellite, and a Modulating Retro-Reflector (MRR) to return a beam of light modulated by data to the ground. This enables a downlink, without a laser source on the satellite. This architecture suits well to small satellite applications so as high data rates are potentially provided with very low board mass. C3PO project aims to achieve data rates of 1Gbit/s between LEO satellites and Earth with a communication payload mass of less than 1kilogram. In this paper, results of the initial experiments and demonstration of the key technologies will be shown.
Benoît d'Humières, Bruno Esmiller, Yann Gouy, Emilie Steck, Crisanto Quintana , Graham Faulkner, Dominic O'Brien, Fabian Sproll, Paul Wagner, Daniel Hampf, Wolfgang Riede, Michael Salter, Qin Wang, Duncan Platt, Darius Jakonis, Xiaoyu Piao, Mikael Karlsson, Olof Oberg, Ingemar Petermann, Aneta Michalkiewicz, Jerzy Krezel, Anna Debowska, and Yoann Thueux, "The C3PO project: a laser communication system concept for small satellites," Proc. SPIE 10096, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXIX, 1009611 (Presented at SPIE LASE: February 01, 2017; Published: 7 March 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2254046.
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