Available Technology

Laser Communications Transceiver

A compact, reduced-complexity, low-cost laser communications transceiver for downlinking data from Earth-orbiting spacecraft
JPL's laser communications transceiver comprises two primary modules: an optics module and an electronics/laser module. The optics module includes a 5-cm diameter telescope, a two-axis coarse-pointing gimbal, monitoring sensors, and thermal control. The electronics module includes a transmitter, processor, controllers, and power conditioning. Keeping optical uplink rate modest and emphasizing downlink, the high-bandwidth downlink transmitter uses coarse wavelength-division multiplexing for operation at four 2.5-Gb/s channels (a total data-rate of 10 Gb/s). Applying this technique enables the use of larger active-area photodetectors at the ground station, which reduces the atmospheric scintillation/turbulence effects on received beam; these effects are further reduced with forward-error correction and deep-interleaver codes. A compact laser communications transceiver with a single transmit/receive aperture has been built using components with traceability to flight qualification (i.e., a flight-qualified version is commercially available). The transmit downlink wavelengths fall within the standard C-band telecom grid of erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs): 1530 to 1560 nm. In the interest of eye safety, reduced background light, and reduced atmospheric turbulence effects, the received uplink beacon wavelength is longer (1568 nm).
Abstract: 
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has developed a compact, low-cost laser communications space transceiver that surpasses the severe spectrum-allocation and bandwidth limitations of conventional radio-frequency communication systems. The innovative design reduces complexity, size, mass, and cost by using readily available flight-grade parts for the compact optics assembly and high-capability electronics assembly. JPL's laser communications transceiver can uniquely and inexpensively satisfy the high-bandwidth communications needs of Earth-orbiting spacecraft.
Benefits: 

Capable of downlinking 10 Gb/s data rates from low Earth orbit to ground

applications: 

High-bandwidth communications from Earth orbit

Earth-observing missions

Commercial spacecraft

Reps: 
Patent Number: 
Internal Laboratory Ref #: 
NPO-TOPS-22
Patent Status: 
Patent Issue Date: 
June 9, 2015
Agency
NASA
Region
Far West
State: 
California
Lab Representatives
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