Abstract

The basic free-space optical communication system includes at least two satellites. To communicate between them, the transmitter satellite must track the beacon of the receiver satellite and point the information optical beam in its direction. Optical tracking and pointing systems for free space suffer during tracking from high-amplitude vibration because of background radiation from interstellar objects such as the Sun, Moon, Earth, and stars in the tracking field of view or the mechanical impact from satellite internal and external sources. The vibrations of beam pointing increase the bit error rate and jam communication between the two satellites. One way to overcome this problem is to increase the satellite receiver beacon power. However, this solution requires increased power consumption and weight, both of which are disadvantageous in satellite development. Considering these facts, we derive a mathematical model of a communication system that adapts optimally the transmitter beam width and the transmitted power to the tracking system performance. Based on this model, we investigate the performance of a communication system with discrete element optical phased array transmitter telescope gain. An example for a practical communication system between a Low Earth Orbit Satellite and a Geostationary Earth Orbit Satellite is presented. From the results of this research it can be seen that a four-element adaptive transmitter telescope is sufficient to compensate for vibration amplitude doubling. The benefits of the proposed model are less required transmitter power and improved communication system performance.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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