Skip to Main Content
The increasing sophistication of optical (and infrared) components and techniques, combined with rapidly expanding communication requirements, suggests that optical systems operating partly or entirely within the atmosphere may soon represent desirable solutions to real communications problems. The design of such systems will be strongly influenced by considerations of atmospheric turbulence, molecular absorption, and aerosol scattering. The most promising alternatives are heterodyne systems operating at the 10.6 µ wavelength, and direct-detection systems at near-infrared or visible wavelengths. Feasible links include horizontal, ground-to-satellite, and satellite-to-ground (or aircraft) geometries. System requirements and atmospheric effects are reviewed. Components, signaling, and diversity techniques which will partially overcome atmospheric limitations are discussed. Specific representative systems designs are presented.