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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Long Range Ranging and Data Communication with Small Satellite Laser Links for Deep-space Science

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

We propose a study and lab demonstration of long range (up to 0.5 AU distance) data communication and ranging with small satellite laser links for deep-space science. This study will leverage the recent advances on key components for cubesat navigation, especially pointing and tracking; and transmitter and detector technology from laser comm. We will perform a feasibility study and a lab demonstration for up to a 0.5AU distance link. The proposed performance capabilities are listed in figure 1, with a targeted ranging accuracy better than 10 meter, and communication data rate 125KBPS. With a 3U terminal size, this will enable small satellite science missions where standard communication systems are inviable due to size and power constraints on these missions. The study will show a feasible solution with low-cost and fast uplink/downlink from the mother-ship, compatible with existing ground stations, for small spacecraft at deep space (Cis-lunar and beyond) distances

This project will address the following challenges, and complete link design, Hardware build and link dynamic range demonstration in the lab.

•High precision optical pointing and tracking

•High optical link loss

•Atmosphere turbulence on optical signals

•High peak power, low duty cycle optical transmitter with low weight, size, and power(WSaP).

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Anticipated Benefits

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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