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Proceedings Paper

Infrared Earth tracking for deep-space optical communications: feasibility study based on laboratory emulator
Author(s): Yijiang Chen; Jeffrey Charles; Hamid Hemmati; Abhijit Biswas
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Paper Abstract

We report on laboratory emulator experiments performed to assess the feasibility of infrared (IR) Earth image tracking for optical communications. A quantum well infrared photodetector (QWIP) is evaluated and characterized for this purpose. For proof of concept, an emulator is designed and implemented in the laboratory to generate IR Earth images over the range of 0.1 to 40 AU at the Focal Plane Array of the QWIP camera to evaluate feasibility of using IR Earth images as opticomm pointing reference. IR Earth images measured from the testbed emulator are compared with the corresponding images derived from Earth thermal modeling and the two are found to be in good agreement. IR Earth image non-uniformity is also emulated in the laboratory testbed, demonstrating that for characteristic deep space optical apertures, the image is dominated by the Earth thermal non-uniformity at short distance (<2 AU) but is overwhelmed by diffraction blurring beyond 4 AU. Furthermore, preliminary laboratory testbed investigation on centroiding accuracy of IR Earth center detection shows improved angular centroiding accuracy with increasing image size and IR signal level.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 February 2007
PDF: 17 pages
Proc. SPIE 6457, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XIX and Atmospheric Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves, 64570A (13 February 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.711541
Show Author Affiliations
Yijiang Chen, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Jeffrey Charles, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Hamid Hemmati, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Abhijit Biswas, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6457:
Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XIX and Atmospheric Propagation of Electromagnetic Waves
Steve Mecherle; Olga Korotkova, Editor(s)

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