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Proceedings Paper

On achieving high performance optical communications from very deep space
Author(s): Don M. Boroson
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Paper Abstract

Missions will continue to need very capable communications systems to transfer data to and from Deep Space, both for science and human exploration. Despite the amazing accomplishments of NASA’s Deep Space Network to date, even higher data rates will be desired in the future. The optical bands have long held out the potential for delivering these higher data rates without having SWaP and cost grow too high. In fact, recent and ongoing laboratory development and space demonstrations make the optical technologies look very promising. A question has arisen recently, though, as to whether the technology will truly be able to meet the needs of many different kinds of missions, especially as the missions go deeper and deeper into space. We present here a communications analysis of the links in question which results in an insight into how we can make such links work. We then propose some feasible system architectures, affecting both the space and ground segments, which can lead to systems that could outperform present-day and future RF systems by from one to four orders of magnitude. We feel that optical technology should be able to support such high-rate communications throughout the Solar System, and even far beyond Pluto.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 February 2018
PDF: 17 pages
Proc. SPIE 10524, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXX, 105240B (15 February 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2291542
Show Author Affiliations
Don M. Boroson, MIT Lincoln Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10524:
Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXX
Hamid Hemmati; Don M. Boroson, Editor(s)

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