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Proceedings Paper

Compact optical transmitters for CubeSat free-space optical communications
Author(s): R. W. Kingsbury; D. O. Caplan; K. L. Cahoy
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Paper Abstract

We present the results of an architectural trade study and prototype implementation of an optical transmitter suitable for resource-constrained CubeSats. Recent advances in CubeSat attitude determination and control systems have made it possible to achieve three-axis stabilization. This is essential for laser communications systems, which have challenging pointing and stability requirements. Our downlink terminal design fits in a 10 cm x 10 cm x 5 cm volume, uses < 10W of power, weighs < 1 kg, and supports data rates up to 50 Mbps. The terminal incorporates pointing, tracking and acquisition optics, an optical fine-steering mechanism, and a compact transmitter. This work focuses on the development of the transmitter for the Nanosatellite Optical Downlink Experiment (NODE). Two transmitter architectures were considered initially: direct modulation of a high-power laser diode and a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA). The MOPA-based approach was selected and a prototype "breadboard" was built from commercially available components. The prototype transmitter produces high fidelity (extinction ratio, ER < 33 dB) pulse position modulation (PPM) waveforms at 1550nm with 200mW average output power while consuming 6:5W of electrical power.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 March 2015
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 9354, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXVII, 93540S (16 March 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2080122
Show Author Affiliations
R. W. Kingsbury, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)
D. O. Caplan, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)
K. L. Cahoy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9354:
Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXVII
Hamid Hemmati; Don M. Boroson, Editor(s)

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