High-Efficiency Data-Rate-Scalable Laser Transmitter for Interplanetary Optical Communications

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: NNX12CE44P
Agency Tracking Number: 115956
Amount: $99,875.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2012
Solicitation Year: 2011
Solicitation Topic Code: O1.04
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
4901 Morena Blvd. Suite 128, San Diego, CA, -
DUNS: 831819979
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 John Marciante
 Principal Investigator
 (585) 771-7311
Business Contact
 John Marciante
Title: Business Official
Phone: (585) 771-7311
Email: john.marciante@ramphotonics.com
Research Institution
Interplanetary missions are at the core of NASA's current space exploration program and are expected to lead the way to new resource discovery in the next decade and beyond. In the absence of manned craft, the payoff for a given mission rests in its ability to gather data and transmit it back to Earth. While sensors and metrology instrumentation are continually being improved with emergent subsystems, the bottleneck to mapping the solar system rests not with the ability to gather data, but rather to transmit it back to Earth.Current deep-space missions rely on radio communications, while optical communications utilize laser transmitters with carrier frequencies around 200 THz for the most mature 1550-nm band. Although the optical bandwidth is substantially larger than radio communications, the required energy at the receivers currently limit the data rates to 300 Mbps, similar to that achievable with radio communications systems. However, the true value of optical communications lies in the directionality of the laser beam - the radiated energy is not wasted into a large portion of the hemisphere but transported to the intended receiver.While many companies currently offer telecommunications-band amplifiers, none meet the exacting needs of NASA's space-com mission such as high efficiency, power, and dedicated (low) data rates. In this proposal, we propose the development of a qualitatively novel approach to high-power, low-bit-rate laser transmitters compatible with deep-space missions. Specifically, we propose to develop a master-oscillator/power amplifier (MOPA) system using two innovative and unique amplifier modules. The new transmitter device possesses both high efficiency (>20% electrical-to-optical) and low SWaP footprint. The new transmitter can operate at 20W average power at arbitrary data rates and generate any symbol format, enabling both local (Martian-like) and deep-space (interplanetary) communications missions.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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