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Towards the utilization of optical ground-to-space links for low earth orbiting spacecraft

Knopp, Marcus Thomas and Spörl, Andreas and Gnat, Marcin and Rossmanith, Gregor Johannes and Huber, Felix and Fuchs, Christian and Giggenbach, Dirk (2019) Towards the utilization of optical ground-to-space links for low earth orbiting spacecraft. Acta Astronautica (166), pp. 147-155. Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2019.10.011. ISSN 0094-5765.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2019.10.011


The microwave spectrum has become a highly limited resource in satellite communications owing to an ever increasing demand for bandwidth and capacity. Therefore, a shift to the exploitation of optical carrier frequencies is currently underway. Focusing on high-rate transmissions of payload data from remote sensing satellites, operational systems, like the well-known European Data Relay Satellite system, are based on optical inter-satellite links. Besides, direct-to-earth free-space optical communications from low Earth orbiting spacecraft hold high potential for upcoming space missions through lower complexity. In that regard, we study the viability of the ground-to-space beacon laser signal of optical ground stations to be additionally modulated with tele-command tokens. Such an optical return channel could be variously put into use, for example to trigger automatic repeat requests of payload data downlinks, for jamming-free control of the spacecraft or for high-rate software uploads to its on-board processor. A particular challenge is posed by the unequal fading behavior of the optical channel regarding the down- and uplinks, which cover asymmetric optical pathways through the atmosphere. We define the end-to-end architecture of the communication chain including the transmitter on ground and the space-based receiver. Special attention is given to compatibility with established space data and system standards. Moreover, we examine the effects on the scheduling of satellite control, resulting from a constrained availability of the optical uplink due to cloud blockages. Our analysis aims at the employment of available space protocols for bidirectional optical communications with low earth orbiting spacecraft. Further on, we consider the adoption of upcoming standards to account for the optical fading channel. Certain applications like immediate automatic-repeat-requests for the downlink will require novel, optimized protocols.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/130017/
Document Type:Article
Title:Towards the utilization of optical ground-to-space links for low earth orbiting spacecraft
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iDORCID Put Code
Knopp, Marcus ThomasUNSPECIFIEDhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-6819-6279UNSPECIFIED
Date:12 October 2019
Journal or Publication Title:Acta Astronautica
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Page Range:pp. 147-155
Keywords:Free-space optical communication, satellite communications, optical ground-to-space links, direct-to-earth links, Automated Repeat-Request, Telemetry and Tele-Command, KNOCGOP
HGF - Research field:Energy
HGF - Program:other
HGF - Program Themes:E - no assignment
DLR - Research area:Energy
DLR - Program:E - no assignment
DLR - Research theme (Project):E - no assignment
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:Space Operations and Astronaut Training > Controlling and Acquisition
Space Operations and Astronaut Training > Mission Operations
Space Operations and Astronaut Training > Mission Technology
Space Operations and Astronaut Training > Communication and Ground Stations
Institute of Communication and Navigation > Satellite Networks
Deposited By: Knopp, Dr Marcus Thomas
Deposited On:19 Nov 2019 17:34
Last Modified:31 Oct 2023 13:47

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