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Laser Beam fiberless optics technology to support Moon, Mars and Deep Space exploration missions

by Rus Abz 2011-09-23 13:29



NASA laser beam data transfer systemA new deep space exploration projects require new ways to transmit and receive in close to real time video frames and high resolution imaging information. NASA analysis of the existing space projects radio bandwidth based communication network shows it has served the needs of data transfer for decades and has grown to large quantity of communications tracking and data transfer relay satellites working in sync with a large network of telecommunications ground stations. The upcoming projects target exploration of Mars, deep space Solar System, and will require a dramatic reduction in transmit of high-resolution imaging and video frames  from hours to minutes from spacecraft orbiting approaching Mars-far distances. In recent years NASA has developed more efficient telecommunications and radio frequency modulation systems with embedded multi layered compression of data. Such techniques has proven to boost up the amount of data flowing between satellites and ground systems. However current systems still need more bandwidth to handle the new generation of next decade agency's projected data needs and advanced deep space exploration instruments  

NASA laser beam communication

The most advanced solution is to enhance the existing data communication methods with optical laser beam based systems. The modulated laser beam has capacity to provide very large increase in downlink and uplink data transmission rates from ten to hundred fold. The existing land-based fiber-optic systems already have the required capacity, which ideally will be extended into the space as fiberless optics laser beam technology. Digital data will be encoded and transmitted via laser light from newly re-designed laser ground stations and to a new experimental payload carried on board of the commercial communications satellite, which will keep firm laser beam handshake with deep space exploration robot and human astronaut missions reaching the far corners of the Solar System.

The experimental payload system is complex chassis carrying GPS assisted precise navigational systems, suite of computer controlled telescopes, lasers transmitters and receivers, arrays of specially configured mirrors, optical transparency detectors, a high precision point to point automatic discovery and connectivity system, high speed optical modems, and enhanced accuracy GPS navigation tracking system. The laser based data transmission multiple channel system will establish and maintain the separate deep space laser communication paths, exchange data with low-Earth orbiting satellites, send and receive information with the International Space Station and Earth-orbiting spacecraft, also keep communication channels open simultaneously with multiple laser equipped ground stations and ground telescope stations.

Mars MissionThe live network of laser enabled ground stations are vital to demonstrate a fully operational distributed laser beam communications system in changing weather conditions, such as heavy cloud coverage and turbulent atmospheric conditions. Reliable laser communications require a clear line of sight between laser transmitter and optical receiver. Parallel channels of open laser communications with several ground stations will ensure the uninterrupted flow of imaging data. The new optical laser communications system that NASA plans to develop and adopt by 2016 will demonstrate streaming of high-definition video from distances beyond the Moon, to support future human exploration of Mars and other planets of the Solar System.

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