Share Email Print
cover

Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Analysis of large optical ground stations for deep-space optical communications

Paper Abstract

Inter-satellite and ground to satellite optical communications have been successfully demonstrated over more than a decade with several experiments, the most recent being NASA’s lunar mission Lunar Atmospheric Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). The technology is in a mature stage that allows to consider optical communications as a high-capacity solution for future deep-space communications [1][2], where there is an increasing demand on downlink data rate to improve science return. To serve these deep-space missions, suitable optical ground stations (OGS) have to be developed providing large collecting areas. The design of such OGSs must face both technical and cost constraints in order to achieve an optimum implementation. To that end, different approaches have already been proposed and analyzed, namely, a large telescope based on a segmented primary mirror, telescope arrays, and even the combination of RF and optical receivers in modified versions of existing Deep-Space Network (DSN) antennas [3][4][5]. Array architectures have been proposed to relax some requirements, acting as one of the key drivers of the present study. The advantages offered by the array approach are attained at the expense of adding subsystems. Critical issues identified for each implementation include their inherent efficiency and losses, as well as its performance under high-background conditions, and the acquisition, pointing, tracking, and synchronization capabilities. It is worth noticing that, due to the photon-counting nature of detection, the system performance is not solely given by the signal-to-noise ratio parameter.

To start with the analysis, first the main implications of the deep space scenarios are summarized, since they are the driving requirements to establish the technical specifications for the large OGS. Next, both the main characteristics of the OGS and the potential configuration approaches are presented, getting deeper in key subsystems with strong impact in the performance. The different configurations are compared from the technical point of view, taking into account the effect of atmospheric conditions. Finally a very preliminary cost analysis for a large aperture OGS is presented.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 November 2017
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 10563, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014, 105630Z (17 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2304253
Show Author Affiliations
M. Reyes Garcia-Talavera, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (Spain)
C. Rivera, ISDEFE (Spain)
G. Murga, IDOM (Spain)
I. Montilla, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (Spain)
A. Alonso, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (Spain)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10563:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014
Zoran Sodnik; Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

© SPIE. Terms of Use
Back to Top