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Optical Engineering

Free-space optical communication link across
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Paper Abstract

This paper presents the results of a successful bidirectional free-space optical link across 16 km to a modulated retroreflector array. The link was implemented at the Naval Research Laboratory's Chesapeake Bay Detachment laser test range. A 6-W cw 1550-nm class 1 M interrogation beam was used to illuminate an array of three modulated cat's-eye retroreflectors located on a tower across the Chesapeake Bay on Tilghman Island. The modulated retroreflectors had a diameter of 16 mm and were arranged in a triangular pattern with a spacing of 30 cm. The interrogating terminal employed a 100-μrad divergence and a high-speed pointing and tracking system to maintain link alignment. Link testing occurred over 12 days in the months of September, October, and November of 2006. Topics presented in this paper include the link scenario for the 16-km free-space optical link, the link budget, and terminal designs, as well as link acquisition and performance. Link performance results presented include data transmission throughput, scintillation data, and pointing and tracking results.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 April 2008
PDF: 10 pages
Opt. Eng. 47(4) 045001 doi: 10.1117/1.2903104
Published in: Optical Engineering Volume 47, Issue 4
Show Author Affiliations
Mark L. Plett, Univ. of Maryland/College Park (United States)
William S. Rabinovich, Naval Research Lab. (United States)
Rita Mahon, L-3 Communications Titan Group (United States)
Mike S. Ferraro, Naval Research Lab. (United States)
Peter G. Goetz, Naval Research Lab. (United States)
Christopher I. Moore, Naval Research Lab. (United States)
Wade Freeman, Smart Logic, Inc. (United States)

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