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30 September 1994 Receiver front end for optical free space communications
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The Receiver Front End (RFE) is the optical receiver of ESA's Semiconductor Laser Intersatellite Link Experiment (SILEX). Optical free space communication between satellites is characterized by narrow beams and therefore by demanding requirements for pointing accuracy. This applies for the steering of the laser beam in transmission, for the pointing of the receiver's field of view (FOV), and for the alignment between transmitted and received beams. The RFE housing, the optical system, the lens and detector's mounting have to be designed to meet the stringent requirements for angular stability. This paper concentrates on the mechanical and thermal aspects which strongly influence the performance. Thermal expansion effects are of major concern when keeping the optical axis stable. All materials have been matched to the thermal expansion characteristics of the hybrid circuit which contains the detector. Assuming only homogeneous temperature changes during life, no stress or angular deviations have to be expected. The relative changes of dimensions in any direction stays equal at different temperatures. The verification of opto-mechanical performance requires sophisticated measurement tools. Measurements have to be performed in order to determine the lateral stability of lens and detector. A dedicated autocollimator was developed which measures the angular stability of the optical axis after vibration, thermo-vacuum test and under temperature changes. It also serves as a test transmitter. Measurement accuracies of 5 (mu) rad have been achieved. For the measurements the RFE is mounted onto a test fixture. A reference mirror on the fixture is the stable reference which has to be more stable than the equipment itself.
© (1994) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Ulrich Hildebrand "Receiver front end for optical free space communications", Proc. SPIE 2210, Space Optics 1994: Space Instrumentation and Spacecraft Optics, (30 September 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.188138;

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