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Proceedings Paper

Diffraction-Limited Tracking For Space Communication
Author(s): J. A. Breisacher
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Paper Abstract

Free-space laser communications requires extremely accurate tracking to keep the transmitter and receiver well aligned in order to prevent data errors. This paper describes a demonstration of diffraction limited tracking for free-space laser communications. Diffraction limited tracking requires the laser beam be held to its undisturbed location to within a fraction of the angular resolution of the system. The demonstration consists of a transmitter, receiver, and far-field simulator. The far-field simulator is used to simulate the laser beam traversing a large distance in space and to introduce a disturbance representative of the spacecraft base motion effects. TRW has developed a biaxial mirror articulator for tracking out this disturbance. This fine and medium track mechanism (F/MTM) consists of a flexurally-suspended gimbal assembly, four voice coils, a caging mechanism, on-board signal conditioning circuit, and outboard electronics. A fine track detector (FTD) consisting of a quadrant photodetector and fine track processing electronics (FTPE) provides feedback to the F/MTM. This paper discusses the major components of the demonstration in detail. In addition, data on the performance of the tracking system is presented and discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 May 1988
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 0885, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies, (2 May 1988); doi: 10.1117/12.976564
Show Author Affiliations
J. A. Breisacher, TRW Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0885:
Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies
David L. Begley; Gerhard A. Koepf, Editor(s)

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