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24 February 2009 Results from the DOLCE (Deep Space Optical Link Communications Experiment) project
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Oerlikon Space AG has since 1995 been developing the OPTEL family of optical communications terminals. The optical terminals within the OPTEL family have been designed so as to be able to position Oerlikon Space for future opportunities open to this technology. These opportunities range from commercial optical satellite crosslinks between geostationary (GEO) satellites, deep space optical links between planetary probes and the Earth, as well as optical links between airborne platforms (either between the airborne platforms or between a platform and GEO satellite). The OPTEL terminal for deep space applications has been designed as an integrated RF-optical terminal for telemetry links between the science probe and Earth. The integrated architecture provides increased TM link capacities through the use of an optical link, while spacecraft navigation and telecommand are ensured by the classical RF link. The optical TM link employs pulsed laser communications operating at 1058nm to transmit data using PPM modulation to achieve a robust link to atmospheric degradation at the optical ground station. For deep space links from Lagrange (L1 / L2) data rates of 10 - 20 Mbps can be achieved for the same spacecraft budgets (mass and power) as an RF high gain antenna. Results of an inter-island test campaign to demonstrate the performance of the pulsed laser communications subsystem employing 32-PPM for links through the atmosphere over a distance of 142 km are presented. The transmitter of the communications subsystem is a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA) employing a 1 W (average power) amplifier and the receiver a Si APD with a measured sensitivity of -70.9 dBm for 32-PPM modulation format at a user data rate of 10 Mbps and a bit error rate (BER) of 10-6.
© (2009) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Guy Baister, Klaus Kudielka, Thomas Dreischer, and Michael Tüchler "Results from the DOLCE (Deep Space Optical Link Communications Experiment) project", Proc. SPIE 7199, Free-Space Laser Communication Technologies XXI, 71990B (24 February 2009);

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