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Significant technological advances were made toward utilizing the Hale telescope for receiving the faint laser communication signals transmitted from an optical transceiver on a spacecraft orbiting Mars. The so-called Palomar receive terminal design, which would have supported nominal downlink data rates of 1-30 Mbps, is described. Testing to validate technologies for near-Sun (3deg from edge of solar disc) daytime operations is also discussed. Finally, a laboratory end-to-end link utilizing a 64-ary pulse-position modulated photon-counting receiver and decoder that achieved predicted near-capacity (within 1.4 dB) performance is described.