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Intersatellite laser crosslinks

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2 Author(s)
Mulholland, J.E. ; Dept. of Electr. & Comput. Eng., Villanova Univ., PA, USA ; Cadogan, S.A.

Intersatellite laser crosslinks (ISL) provide a method of communication that has significantly increased the data throughput that can be managed over typical RF communication systems, and has significant growth potential. Optical communications offer very wide bandwidths which can be effectively utilized with wavelength division multiplexing techniques. The data rate growth potential is well beyond the few gigabit per second range of RF technology. The use of lasers in transmitting optical data takes advantage of its small wavelength and low beam divergence to send highly directed signals over significant distances with controlled losses in intensity. The high directivity of the laser aids in resistance to jamming communications between satellites, or between satellites and ground stations. Various intersatellite laser optical crosslink system are discussed including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laser Intersatellite Transmission Experiment (LITE), the McDonnell Douglas Electronic Systems Company Laser Crosslink System, and The Ball Aerospace Optical Intersatellite Link,in order to display the various subsystem and their implementations. Link budget calculations are performed on the most commonly used modulation formats to determine system parameters necessary to close the crosslink. Background is provided on primal system architectures and methods of laser communication, as well as presently implemented systems. The authors provide some insights on where ISL systems have opportunity to increase their data throughput and reduce acquisition time.

Published in:

Aerospace and Electronic Systems, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:32 ,  Issue: 3 )