A report in the form of lecture slides summarizes the optical-communications program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and describes the JPL Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory (OCTL) and its role in the program. The purpose of the program is to develop equipment and techniques for laser communication between (1) ground stations and (2) spacecraft (both near Earth and in deep space) and aircraft. The OCTL is an astronomical-style telescope facility that includes a 1-m-diameter, 75.8-m-focal length telescope in an elevation/azimuth mount, plus optical and electronic subsystems for tracking spacecraft and aircraft, receiving laser signals from such moving targets, and transmitting high-power laser signals to such targets. Near-term research at the OCTL is expected to focus on mitigating the effects of atmospheric scintillation on uplinks and on beacon-assisted tracking of ground stations by stations in deep space. Near-term experiments are expected to be performed with retroreflector-equipped aircraft and Earth-orbiting spacecraft techniques to test mathematical models of propagation of laser beams, multiple-beam strategies to mitigate uplink scintillation, and pointing and tracking accuracy of the telescope.

This work was done by Keith Wilson of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Electronics/Computers category. NPO-30575

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Research and Development in Optical Communications

(reference NPO-30575) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the November, 2004 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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