21 May 2013 New electro-optic laser scanners for small-sat to ground laser communication links
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Abstract
In this paper we present new electro-optic beam steering technology and propose to combine it with optical telecommunication technology, thereby enabling low cost, compact, and rugged free space optical (FSO) communication modules for small-sat applications. Small satellite applications, particularly those characterized as “micro-sats” are often highly constrained by their ability to provide high bandwidth science data to the ground. This will often limit the relevance of even highly capable payloads due to the lack of data availability. FSO modules with unprecedented cost and size, weight, and power (SWaP) advantages will enable multi-access FSO networks to spread across previously inaccessible platforms. An example system would fit within a few cubic inch volume, require less than 1 watt of power and be able to provide ground station tracking (including orbital motion over wide angles and jitter correction) with a 50 to 100 Mbps downlink and no moving parts. This is possible, for the first time, because of emergent and unprecedented electro-optic (EO) laser scanners which will replace expensive, heavy, and power-consuming gimbal mechanisms. In this paper we will describe the design, construction, and performance of these new scanners. Specific examples to be discussed include an all electro-optic beamsteer with a 60 degree by 40 degree field of view. We will also present designs for a cube-sat to ground flight demonstration. This development would provide a significant enhancement in capabilities for future NASA and other Government and industry space projects.
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Scott R. Davis, Seth T. Johnson, Scott D. Rommel, Michael H. Anderson, Jimmy Chen, Tien-Hsin Chao, "New electro-optic laser scanners for small-sat to ground laser communication links", Proc. SPIE 8739, Sensors and Systems for Space Applications VI, 87390H (21 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2015307; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2015307
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