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Deep Space Optical Terminals

A Technical Seminar report submitted to

Visvesvaraya Technological University


in partial fulfilment of the requirements
for VIII Semester of

Bachelor of Engineering
in
Electronics and Communication Engineering

Submitted by

Parvathy R 1KG15EC056

Under the Guidance of

Dr. Girish V Athimarad Mr. Arun Kumar M

Professor and Head Associate Professor


Dept. of ECE Dept. of ECE
KSSEM, Bangalore KSSEM, Bangalore

Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering


K.S. School of Engineering and Management
No. 15, Mallasandra, off Kanakapura Road, Bangalore-560062
2018-19
K.S. School of Engineering and Management
No. 15, Mallasandra, off Kanakapura Road, Bangalore-560062

Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering

Certificate

This is to certify that the project work entitled Deep Space Optical Terminals is a bona
fide work carried out by

PARVATHY R 1KG15EC056

in partial fulfilment of the requirements for VIII Semester of Bachelor of Engineering


in Electronics and Communication Engineering of Visvesvaraya Technological
University, Belgaum, during the year 2018-19. It is certified that all the suggestions
indicated during internal assessment have been incorporated in the report and this
report satisfies the academic requirement in respect of technical seminar prescribed
for the degree.

_____________________ _____________ __________


Name and Signature of Head of the Principal/
Internal Guide Department Director
K.S. School of Engineering and Management
No. 15, Mallasandra, off Kanakapura Road, Bangalore-560062

Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering

Declaration

I,
PARVATHY R 1KG15EC056

the student of eight semester BE declare that the technical seminar entitled Deep Space
Optical Terminals is carried out at K.S. School of Engineering and Management as a
partial fulfilment of academic requirement for VIII Semester of BE in Electronics and
Communication Engineering under Visvesvaraya Technological University. The
content in the report are original and are free from plagiarism and other academic
dishonesty and are not submitted to any other University either partially or wholly
for the award of any other degree.

USN No. Name of Student Signature with Date


1KG15EC056 PARVATHY R

Place : KSSEM, Bangalore


Date:
Acknowledgement

The successful completion of task would be incomplete without complementing those who made
it possible, whose guidance and encouragement made my efforts successful.

With deep sense of gratitude, I acknowledge the help and encouragement of our internal guide
Mr. Arun Kumar M Asst. Professor, Dept of ECE, KSSEM, Bangalore.

I would also like to express our deep sense of gratitude to Dr. Girish V Attimarad, Professor
and Head of the Department, Dept. of ECE, KSSEM, Bangalore, for his exemplary guidance,
valuable suggestions, expert advice and encouragements.

I take great pleasure in expressing our sincere thanks to Dr. K. Rama Narasimha,
Principal/Director, KSSEM, Bangalore, for his valuable support.

Last but not least, I take this opportunity in expressing my gratitude and respect to all those who
directly or indirectly helped and encouraged me.

Parvathy R

1KG15EC056
Abstract

Using Radio frequency(RF) telecommunication constraints mass, power and volume on


the space craft, as well as Bandwidth allocation restrictions, limit increases in data rate. Optical
Communication can potentially overcome this limitation. NASA identified Optical
communication as an emerging technology for providing a high-rate data-return service for its
missions from lunar distance out to the farthest reaches of the solar system for Deep Space
Optical Communication. A ‘Deep space optical Terminal’ study was completed for a Deep space
Optical Communication technology demonstration in 2018. The requirements emphasized was
a higher data rate from Mars closest range flown on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) but
using comparable mass and power.
This papers deals with the design of a laser communication terminal for a space craft
orbiting Mars. The flight terminal, the ground receiver and the ground transmitter subsystems
are described. The designed system would be capable of a 0.25 Gb/s downlink data-rate, 0.3Mb/s
uplink data-rate, and ranging with a 30 cm precision when the distance to the flight terminal is
the Earth-Mars close range
Contents
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS………………………………………………………..i
ABSTRACT ………………………………………………………………………ii
LIST OF FIGURES……………………………………………………………...iii

1 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 4
2 SYSTEM ENGINEERING ........................................................................................ 6
3 FLIGHT LASER TRANSCEIVER ........................................................................... 8
3.1 Functionalities of FLT ................................................................................................... 8
3.2 Assemblies in FLT .......................................................................................................... 8
4 GROUND LASER RECEIVER ............................................................................... 11
4.1 Architecture of the GLR ............................................................................................. 12
5 GROUND LASER TRANMSITTER ....................................................................... 14
6 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................... 15
List of Figures

Figure 1.1 The architecture of the DOT system ........................................................................... 5


Figure 3.1 FLT major assemblies reference architecture ........................................................... 10
Figure 4.1 The architecture of the GLR ..................................................................................... 13
Chapter 1

1 INTRODUCTION
The Deep-space Optical Terminals (DOT) concept design’s intent is to retire the major
risks perceived for operational planetary lasercom and to demonstrate a communication system
that is scalable to multi-Gb/s data-rates and range of at least 5 AU from Earth. The tracking
concept assumes availability of an earth-emanated uplink laser beacon source. At ranges above
5 AU beaconless tracking will likely be employed.
There are many difference between assembly level technology requirements for an Earth-
orbiting lasercom system and one for deep space communications. Key differences include :
large point-ahead angles, round-trip light-times preventing closed loop beacon tracking,
simultaneous low Sun-Probe-Earth (SPE) and Sun-Earth-Probe (SEP) angles leading to signal-
to-noise ration conditions at both ends of the link. Additionally, operations under the photon-
starved regime, as a result of large interplanetary distances, requires highly efficient (high
bits/photon) modulation and strategies that result in requiring high peak-to-average power laser
transmitters that are as yet unproven in the space environment.
The Deep-space optical terminal system (DOT) consists of four major subsystems: The
Flight Laser Transceiver (FLT), The Ground Laser Transmitter, Ground Laser Receiver (GLR),
and The DOT Mission Operations center (MOC).

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Figure 1.1 The architecture of the DOT system

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Chapter 2

2 SYSTEM ENGINEERING

Assumptions were made for the platform disturbances, a key driver influencing the
design of the challenging laser beam pointing control assembly, based on disturbance power
spectral densities of past spacecraft. The assumed angular power spectral density (PSD) is 1E-
7 rad²/Hz at and below 0.1Hz ; 1E-15 rad²/Hz at 1kHz with a 20 dB/decade slope beyond 0.1Hz.
The RMS angular disturbance resulting from this assumed PSD is 140 μrad.
The function of downlink is to provide a variety of downlink data-rates, and to support
downlink temporal acquisition and ranging. The major signalling trades to achieve maximum
power efficiency (bits/photon), were: detection method; range of slot-widths; modulation; error-
correcting-code; and synchronization markers. Direct detection in conjunction with photon-
counting (DD-PC) data reception was regarded more efficient than other viable options for
DOT’s operating conditions. Pulse Position Modulation (PPM) was selected due to its near-
optimum power efficiency. The serially concatenated PPM (SCPPM) encoding was baseline for
the optical downlink, since SCPPM in combination with photon-counting direct-detection
receiver can achieve communications performance within 1dB of channel capacity.
Uplinks signalling primary functions are: transmitting high-rate uplink data; supporting a low-
rate command capability; providing a reference beacon; aiding synchronization; and supporting
ranging. Again, direct-direction along with photon counting is selected for its photon-efficiency
and the relatively high bandwidth capability. Given a detector array sensor with adequate field-
of-view to cover the range of point-ahead angles, a single sensor will be sufficient for
implementation of beam-pointing , high bandwidth communications, ranging and
synchronization. A Reed-Soloman code was selected for the uplink due to its low complexity
and efficiency.
Transmit/receive signal isolation at the flight terminal drives wavelength selection
considerations. High power 1500-nm lasers for uplink are unavailable commercially at this time,
but that is not the case for 1030 nm lasers. This supports the choice of 1550 nm for downlink
and 1050 nm for uplink to enhance transmit/receive wavelength isolation. The selection of

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uplink wavelength is driven by the availability and characteristics of uplink photon counting
detectors, while the selection of the uplink laser beam divergence (40 μrad) is driven by the
requirement to deliver the required irradiance at the entrance of the aperture of flight terminal
telescope.

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Chapter 3

3 FLIGHT LASER TRANSCEIVER


The Flight Laser Transceiver (FLT) is the space-based subsystem of the Deep-space Optical
Terminals (DOT) project. The FLT supports retirement of all major risks for deployment of
operational deep-space optical communications at ranges out to about 5 AU.

3.1 Functionalities of FLT


The Deep-space Optical Terminal (DOT) Flight Laser Transceiver (FLT) is a concept design for
a space-based optical telecommunications subsystem to provide functionalities of

1. High-rate downlink data telecommunications


2. Forward telecommunications
3. Precision spacecraft ranging

3.2 Assemblies in FLT


The flight terminal is composed of three major assemblies :

1. The optical assembly houses sub-assemblies for the transmit/receive telescope, aft optics,
acquisition/tracking/data sensors, and a point-ahead mirror sub-assembly.
2. To facilitates meeting the precision laser beam pointing requirements, a vibration-reduction
assembly called the low-frequency vibration-isolation platform (LVP) largely attenuates the
effect of the host spacecraft angular disturbances on the optical assembly. The LVP is
designed to mitigate the majority of the host-platform-induced angular disturbances, using a
hybrid of passive and active isolators, controlled by the processor sub-assembly.
3. The opto-electronic assembly houses the laser transmitter, modems, controllers, processors
and power converters. The sub-assemblies which generate heat are located away from the
optical assembly and do not need to be isolated from the optical assembly and do not need
to be isolated from the host platform vibrations. An umbilical cord containing soft copper
and fibreoptic cables connects the optoelectronic assembly to the optical assembly in a
fashion that does not interfere with LVP’s function.

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The Pointing, acquisition and Tracking (PAT) subassembly has to achieve sub-micron-
radian transmit beam pointing in the presence of 140 μrad RMS angular disturbance from
the spacecraft. Accommodation of the large point-ahead angular range of +/- 400 μrad is
another major PAT design driver. A common transmit/receiver optical aperture provides the
highest pointing stability. Closed-loop tracking of the transmit beam pointing across the long
light propagation times at deep space ranges is impractical.
The laser transmitter sub-assembly modulates the input encoded electrical signal onto the
transmit optical beam. PPM symbols with 16 to 128 slots per symbol were selected. This
modulation scheme requires peak-to -average power ratios ranging from 20:1 to 160:1 from
the laser transmitter, and laser pulse-widths ranging from 0.5-ns to 8-ns. Erbium-doped fiber-
amplifier (EDFA) 1550 nm sources that presently available commercially deliver
significantly lower peak-to-average power ratios than required. The current state of
technology, however, makes it reasonable to develop an amplifier meeting the requirement.
The uplink sensor subassembly is used to track the uplink data, and to simultaneously track
the downlink beam to verify the point-ahead angle. An uplink wavelength of 1030nm was
selected for two reasons: availability of low-noise silicon detectors. Additionally, the use of
a silicon detector is advantageous since it inherently contributes to the transmit-receive
isolation.
A 22cm diameter off-axis Gregorian telescope configuration was selected due to its
excellent rejection of the thermal load from the background sunlight during operation of
small sun angles. Silicon carbide was selected for the primary mirror substrate and telescope
structure to minimize mass and thermal distortion.

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Figure 3.1 FLT major assemblies reference architecture

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Chapter 4

4 GROUND LASER RECEIVER


The Ground Laser Transmitter (GLT) sends an uplink beam to the spacecraft. This beam is
used as pointing reference (i.e. beacon) at the spacecraft, as well as carrying uplink
communication data. The Flight Laser Transceiver (FLT) is the DOT subsystem mounted on the
spacecraft. It receives the uplink beam and transmits a downlink beam. The Ground Laser
Receiver (GLR) receives the downlink light and recovers the communication data. DOT also
supports ranging by measuring the time of flight on both the uplink and downlink beam.

GLR subsystem’s key design drivers include :

1. High antenna gain obtained from large collecting area and highly efficient optics
 The required GLR telescope aperture gain of 142 dB translates to 110 m² aperture
2. Operation during daytime at low SEP angles
3. Operation in the photon-starved regime due to reception of extremely faint signal from
deep space
 This necessitates use of highly efficient detectors and use of efficient modulation
and error-correcting codes at the transmitter to maximize the bits per photon
4. Operation at high background to signal ration since the detected rate of background
photons may exceed the rate of signal photons by as much as 18 dB during lo SEP
operations. Efficient optical filtering helps in this regard.

The Detector assembly’s driving requirements are: array format with several hundred
elements, detection efficiency> 50%; data count rate< 0.33MHz; and timing jitter< 120ps. Array
of superconducting nanowire single photon detectors (SNSPDs) were baselined. The intensifier
photo-diode (IPD) meets nearly all requirements, but suffers from relatively low detection
efficiency of 30% at 1550 nm. The Electronics Assembly’s function is to process the
photodetector signal and determine the number of photons received in each temporal slot in each
region, synchronize to the downlink signal, estimate the rate if signal and background photons,
and control the acquisition and tracking of downlink. This assembly has to be able to process
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variable data-rates, PPM orders, code rates, slot widths, symbol repetitions, and background
photon rates.

4.1 Architecture of the GLR


There are six Assemblies in the GLR subsystem.

1. The telescope assembly collects and concentrates the downlink coming from the FLT.
2. The AFT optic assembly takes the light from the telescope assembly and filters out the
background light. It also provides functions for beam monitoring and alignment.
3. The downlink light is coupled to the detector assembly, where the photons are converted
into an electronic signal. The detector assembly must distinguish between photons
striking different regions of the focal plane, in order to provide the tracking information
used to stabilize the optical line of sight.
4. The electronic signals from the detector assembly are sent to the element electronics,
which synchronizes to the downlink signalling format and estimates the signal and
background photo-count rate. It provides the control signals to the telescope assembly
and AFT optics assembly, which are used to acquire and track the downlink light.
5. The slot statistics (which may be represented as the number of photo-counts in each time
interval of the downlink signal structure) are sent from element electronics to station
electronics. The station electronics uses the synchronized slot statistics to decode the
information that was transmitted over the downlink; it then stores the resulting data for
eventual relay back to DOT MOC.
6. The station electronics also relays back to the DOT MOC the atmospheric conditions that
affect the link, such as sky radiance, atmospheric attenuation and turbulence. These
parameters are measured by an atmosphere monitoring assembly.

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Figure 4.1 The architecture of the GLR

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Chapter 5

5 GROUND LASER TRANMSITTER


The ground-based optical systems consists of Ground Laser Transmitter (GLT) system,
which transmits a beacon to the FLT, and Ground Laser Receiver (GLR), which receives and
decodes the downlink optical signal. Operation begins with the GLT pointing blind to the
predicted location of the spacecraft and transmitting a bright, narrow beacon beam. Meanwhile,
the spacecraft transceiver is pointed back toward Earth, and begins searching for the beacon.
Once the transceiver observes and identifies the beacon to refine stabilize its pointing, and offset
to the point ahead location to which it must transmit its downlink signal.

GLT subsystem’s key design drivers include :

1. To deliver a pre-set power density at entrance aperture of the flight terminal.


 From this, the requirements were derived for uplink laser power, beam
divergence, and the number of beams required to effectively mitigate the
atmospheric turbulence effects.
2. Meeting the blind-pointing accuracy requirement
3. Operation during daytime and at low SEP angles

The Uplink Telescope’s options include: a single telescope, distributed telescopes and flat
mirror beam directors. The existing JPL 1m diameter could path OCTL telescope is selected
based on its capability to meet the required pointing, availability, cost and complexity.
The Uplink Laser’s key requirements include: 1030 nm wavelength, 0.5 nm line-width and
+/- 0.1nm wavelength tunability, 2 kW average and 370 kW of peak power with M²< 1.2beam
quality, pulse repetition rates in the 4 to 500kHz range 128 ns pulse-width, random polarization,
and 20 dB pulse extinction ratio. Today’s technology can meet these requirements.

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Chapter 6

6 CONCLUSION
Flight and ground terminals were conceptually designed to meet pre-set requirements.
This system enables downlink transmission. This system enables downlink transmission of over
0.25Gb/s from Mars close distance (0.42 AU) while estimated flight terminal mass and power
are comparable to the state-of-practise of existing Mars spacecraft telecommunication systems.
Currently, the highest risk items are the technology maturity of the flight isolation platform, the
flight laser, and the flight and the ground single photo-sensitive data detectors. These specific
technologies are now being addressed in a focused technology development program.

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REFERENCES

[1]. A. Biswas, H. Hemmati, S. Piazzolla, B. Moision, K. Birnbaum, and K. Quirk, “Deep-space


Optical Terminals (DOT) Systems Engineering,” JPL’s IPN Progress report 42-183, Nov 15,
2010.

[2]. J. Hamkins, “Pulse position modulation, “Handbook of Computer Networks,” H. Bidgoli,


Ed. New York Wiley, Ch. 37, 2007.

[3]. B. Moision and J. Hamkins, “Coded modulation for the deep space optical channel: serially
concatenated PPM,” JPL’s IPN Progress Report, vol. 42-161, 2005.

[4]. W. Farr, M. Regehr, M. Wright, D. Shelton, A. Sahasrabudhi, J. Gin, and D. Nguyen,


“Overview and trades for the DOT flight laser transmitter,” JPL’s IPN Progress Report, to be
published April 2011. [5]. K. J. Quirk, J. W. Gin, and M. Srinivasan, “Optical PPM
synchronization for photon counting receivers,” MILCOM Conference, IEEE, pp.1-7, Nov.
2008. [6]. K. Birnbaum, J. Charles, W. Farr, J. Gin, L. Quirk, W. T. Roberts, J. Stern, Y-H. Wu,
“DOT ground laser receiver: overview and major trades,” JPL’s IPN Progress Report, Aug. 15,
2010.

[7]. R. La Rue, G. Davis, D. Pudvay, K. Costello, and V. Aebi, “Photon Counting 1060 nm
Hybrid Photomultiplier with High Quantum Efficiency,” IEEE Electron Devices Lett. Vol. 20,
pp. 1126-128, 1999.

[8]. W. T. Roberts and M. Wright, “Deep-space Optical Terminals (DOT) Ground Laser
Transmitter (GLT) trades and conceptual point design,” JPL’s IPN Progress report, 42-183, Nov.
2010.

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