Abstract

Performance of an Earth-to-deep-space optical telecommunications system is degraded by distortion of the beam as it propagates through the turbulent atmosphere. Conventional approaches to correcting distortions, based on natural or artificial guide stars, have practical difficulties or are not adequate for correction of distortions, which are important for Earth-to-deep-space optical links. A beam-relay approach that overcomes these difficulties is discussed. A downward-directed laser near an orbiting relay mirror provides a reference for atmospheric correction. Adaptive optics at the ground station compensate the uplink beam so that after it passes through the atmosphere uplink propagation effects are removed. The orbiting mirror then directs the corrected beam to the distant spacecraft.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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