Laser communications offer a viable alternative to RF communications for inter satellite links and other applications where high-performance links are a necessity. High data rate, small antenna size, narrow beam divergence, and a narrow field of view are characteristics of laser communications that offer a number of potential advantages for system design.
LASER COMMUNICATION SYSTEM
Information typically in the form of digital data is input to data electronics that modulates the transmitting data source. Direct or indirect modulation techniques may be employed depending on the type of laser used. The source output passes through an optical system into the channel. The optical system typically includes transfer, beam shaping and telescope optics. The receiver beam comes in through the optical system and is passed along to the detectors and signal processing electronics. There are also terminal controlled electronics that must control the gimbals and other steering mechanism and servos to keep the acquisition and tracking system operating in the designed modes of operation
The link parameters include the type of laser, wavelength, type of link, and the required signal criterion. Today the lasers typically used in free space laser communications are the semiconductor laser diodes, solid-state lasers, or fiber amplifier lasers. Laser sources are described as operating in either in single or multiple longitudinal modes. In the single longitudinal mode operation the laser emits radiation at a single frequency, while in the multiple longitudinal mode, multiple frequencies are emitted.
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