A report describes a program to develop a multi-function telescope to be carried aboard spacecraft of the planned X2000 series of planetary missions. [A related multi-function telescope was described in "Telescope for Imaging and Laser Communication" (NPO-20388), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 24, No. 1 (January, 2000), page 27a.] An important element of this program is minimization of instrument mass through combination of several optoelectronic subsystems into one telescope system with one aperture for transmission and reception of light. The functions to be performed by the telescope system include scientific imaging, reception of laser-altimeter return signals, and two-way optical communication. The communication functions include transmission of scientific data, reception of commands, and reception and retransmission of laser ranging signals. For communication, the telescope would be aimed at the sunlit Earth, by use of aiming techniques like those summarized in the cited previous article. Rates for transmission of scientific data to Earth from as far away as Jupiter would range from 100 kb/s (day) to 400 kb/s (night). The data rate for reception of commands from Earth would be 2 kb/s. A flight-qualified engineering model of the system is scheduled for completion in the year 2001.

This work was done by James Lesh and Hamid Hemmati of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. To obtain a copy of the report, "Laser Communications Terminal for the X2000 Series of Planetary Missions," access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.nasatech.com/tsp  under the Physical Sciences category.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to

Technology Reporting Office
Mail Stop 122-116
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
(818) 354-2240

Refer to NPO-20425, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Spaceborne Telescope for Communication, Ranging, and Imaging

(reference NPO-20425) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

Don't have an account? Sign up here.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2000 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from the archives here.