Future NASA destinations will be challenging to get to, have extreme environmental conditions, and may present difficulty in retrieving a spacecraft or its data. Space Photonics is developing a radiationtolerant (rad-tolerant), high-speed, multichannel fiber-optic transceiver, associated reconfigurable intelligent node communications architecture, and supporting hardware for intravehicular and groundbased optical networking applications. Data rates approaching 3.2 Gbps per channel will be achieved.

The high-speed 3.2-Gbps components, coupled with their Intelligent Node architecture, or universally with other architectures, will allow for orders of magnitude increases in the levels of automated onboard science data processing. Pure hardware processing capabilities have been achieved with the flexibility of reprogrammability utilizing FPGA control chips in the Intelligent Node architecture. Rad-tolerant versions of the current FPGA being evaluated are available through Xylinx. Due to the high-speed designs and partnerships with custom laser diode and photodiode manufacturers, total power requirements of the complete four-channel, 2.0- Gbps FireRing products are less than 1.5 Watts. Similar results are anticipated from the proposed 3.2-Gbps development effort. Additional packaging innovations as alternatives to costly hermetic sealing, passive integration, and heat dissipation will also compliment this aspect of the proposed effort.

The ultimate goal of this project will be the successful design, fabrication, and demonstration of a rad-hard, singlechannel, 3.2-Gbps serial fiber-optic transceiver that is universally compatible with virtually all protocols and architectures that interest NASA and the DoD. Key functional attributes and/or improvements beyond the current state of the art in harsh-environment fiberoptic networking components are improved thermal stability, reduced power dissipation, reduced size and mass, special-purpose data processing, reconfigurable computing, protocoltransparent/ multiprotocol-compatible, subsystem data transfer, intra-system data transfer, data system support, and proven materials, fabrication, and packaging processes.

This work was done by Matt Leftwich, Tony Hull, Michael Leary, and Marcus Leftwich of Space Photonics, Inc. for Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16414-1

Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the January, 2013 issue of Photonics Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from the archives here.