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Pointing, acquisition and tracking for optical space communications

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2 Author(s)
G. Baister ; Dept. of Eng., MMS Space Systems Ltd., Stevenage, UK ; P. V. Gatenby

Free-space links between satellites provide a means of introducing increased connectivity into a satellite system. This can result in enhanced traffic capacity and extended coverage for telecommunication systems and real-time relay of instrument data to the ground for Earth observation missions. Optical links offer the potential advantages over microwave links of lower mass and power and reduced size so that they can be accommodated more easily on the satellite. However the narrow optical beamwidths involved result in stringent pointing, acquisition and tracking (PAT) requirements. This paper describes a concept for a compact PAT system which employs a passive antivibration mount to filter out high-frequency disturbances from the satellite. This is under development as part of the ESA-funded Small Optical User Terminal (SOUT) programme. The system concept, hardware implementation, and results of breadboarding critical items are presented

Published in:

Electronics & Communication Engineering Journal  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 6 )