17 May 2016 Laser-based satellite communication systems stabilized by non-mechanical electro-optic scanners
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Abstract
Laser communications systems provide numerous advantages for establishing satellite-to-ground data links. As a carrier for information, lasers are characterized by high bandwidth and directionality, allowing for fast and secure transfer of data. These systems are also highly resistant to RF influences since they operate in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, far from radio bands. In this paper we will discuss an entirely non-mechanical electro-optic (EO) laser beam steering technology, with no moving parts, which we have used to form robust 400 Mbps optical data connections through air. This technology will enable low cost, compact, and rugged free space optical (FSO) communication modules for small satellite applications. The EO beam-steerer at the heart of this system is used to maintain beam pointing as the satellite orbits. It is characterized by extremely low values for size, weight and power consumption (SWaP) – approximately 300 cm3, 300 g, and 5 W respectively, which represents a marked improvement compared to heavy, and power-consuming gimbal mechanisms. It is capable of steering a 500 mW, 1 mm short wave infrared (SWIR) beam over a field of view (FOV) of up to 50° x 15°, a range which can be increased by adding polarization gratings, which provide a coarse adjust stage at the EO beam scanner output. We have integrated this device into a communication system and demonstrated the capability to lock on and transmit a high quality data stream by modulation of SWIR power.
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Michael Ziemkiewicz, Scott R. Davis, Scott D. Rommel, Derek Gann, Benjamin Luey, Joseph D. Gamble, Mike Anderson, "Laser-based satellite communication systems stabilized by non-mechanical electro-optic scanners", Proc. SPIE 9828, Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) Systems and Applications XIII, 982808 (17 May 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2223269; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2223269
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