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Proceedings Paper

Comparison of optical technologies for a high-data-rate Mars link
Author(s): Rodney L. Spence
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Paper Abstract

Future manned missions to Mars, planned as part of NASA''s Space Exploration Initiative (SEI), will require large amounts of communications link capacity in order to return high resolution video and scientific data from the Martian vicinity back to earth. Optical communications technology has the potential of supporting these high return data rates while offering significant savings in size, mass, and power over microwave systems. In this paper several different optical systems based on Nd:YAG, GaAs, and CO2 laser sources and employing both direct and heterodyne detection are analyzed in order to assess their feasibility in providing high data rate (10-1000 Mbps) Mars-to-Earth communications. Telescope sizes which minimize the required transmit laser power in the presence of random (Rayleigh distributed) pointing and tracking errors are determined for each optical implementation. It is shown that the RMS pointing/tracking accuracy is a critical parameter in defining the Mars-Earth optical link. Results of the analysis indicate that unless extremely small RMS pointing and tracking errors can be achieved ((sigma)

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 June 1991
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 1417, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies III, (1 June 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.43784
Show Author Affiliations
Rodney L. Spence, NASA/Lewis Research Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1417:
Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies III
David L. Begley; Bernard D. Seery, Editor(s)

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