Compact optical transmitters for CubeSat free-space optical communications
Author(s)Kingsbury, Ryan W; Caplan, David O.; Cahoy, Kerri
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We present the results of an architectural trade study and prototype implementation of an optical transmitter suitable for resource-constrained CubeSats. Recent advances in CubeSat attitude determination and control systems have made it possible to achieve three-axis stabilization. This is essential for laser communications systems, which have challenging pointing and stability requirements. Our downlink terminal design fits in a 10 cm x 10 cm x 5 cm volume, uses < 10W of power, weighs < 1 kg, and supports data rates up to 50 Mbps. The terminal incorporates pointing, tracking and acquisition optics, an optical fine-steering mechanism, and a compact transmitter. This work focuses on the development of the transmitter for the Nanosatellite Optical Downlink Experiment (NODE). Two transmitter architectures were considered initially: direct modulation of a high-power laser diode and a master oscillator power amplifier (MOPA). The MOPA-based approach was selected and a prototype 'breadboard' was built from commercially available components. The prototype transmitter produces high fidelity (extinction ratio, ER < 33 dB) pulse position modulation (PPM) waveforms at 1550nm with 200mW average output power while consuming 6:5W of electrical power. Keywords: free-space optical communications, CubeSat, small satellites, optical transmitters, lasercom
DepartmentLincoln Laboratory; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Proceedings Volume 9354, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXVII
Kingsbury, R. W., et al. "Compact Optical Transmitters for CubeSat Free-Space Optical Communications." Proceedings Volume 9354, Free-Space Laser Communication and Atmospheric Propagation XXVII, 7-12 February, 2015, San Francisco, California, edited by Hamid Hemmati and Don M. Boroson, SPIE, 2015, p. 93540S. © 2015 SPIE.
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