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Toward a NASA Deep Space Optical Communications System

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dc.contributor.author Deutsch, Leslie J.
dc.contributor.author Lichten, Stephen M.
dc.contributor.author Hoppe, Daniel J.
dc.contributor.author Russo, Anthony J.
dc.contributor.author Cornwell, Donald M.
dc.date.accessioned 2020-05-11T22:18:03Z
dc.date.available 2020-05-11T22:18:03Z
dc.date.issued 2018-05-28
dc.identifier.citation The 15th International Conference on Space Operations (SpaceOps), Marseille, France, May 28 - June 1, 2018 en_US
dc.identifier.clearanceno 18-2572
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2014/48334
dc.description.abstract As discussed at SpaceOps in 2016, we expect the data rates from deep space missions to increase approximately one order of magnitude per decade for the next 50 years. The first order of magnitude improvement will come from existing plans for radio frequency (RF) communications including enhancements to both spacecraft and Deep Space Network (DSN) facilities. The next two orders of magnitude are predicted to come from the introduction of deep space optical communications. Studies indicate that optical receive apertures of between 8m12m are desired. The large cost of dedicated receive telescopes makes this method unrealistic – at least in the near-term. The cost of large optical ground terminals is driven primarily by the cost of the optics and by the cost of a stable structure for the telescope. We propose a novel hybrid design in which existing DSN 34m beam waveguide (BWG) radio antennas can be modified to include an 8m equivalent optical primary. By utilizing a low-cost segmented spherical mirror optical design, pioneered by the optical astronomical community, and by exploiting the already existing extremely stable large radio aperture structures in the DSN, we can minimize both of these cost drivers for implementing large optical communications ground terminals. Two collocated hybrid RF/optical antennas could be arrayed to synthesize the performance of an 11.3m receive aperture to support more capable or more distant space missions or used separately to communicate with two optical spacecraft simultaneously. NASA is in the midst of building six new 34m BWG antennas in the DSN. The final two are planned to be built at the DSN Goldstone, California and Canberra complexes. We are now investigating building these last two antennas as RF/optical hybrids. By delaying their operational dates by two years, we would be able to add the 8m optical receive capability for these two antennas while fitting within existing budgetary constraints. This paper describes the hybrid antenna design, the technical challenges being addressed, and plan for using this concept, together with ongoing work on optical flight terminals, to infuse operation optical communications into deep space missions. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship NASA/JPL en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Pasadena, CA: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2018 en_US
dc.title Toward a NASA Deep Space Optical Communications System en_US
dc.type Preprint en_US


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