Innovative UAV-to-satellite communication link concepts using adaptive optics
Small Business Information
2021 Girard SE, Suite 150, Albuquerque, NM, -
AbstractAn electronic beam steering system (EBS) using a stack of liquid crystal polarization gratings (LCPGs) will be tested in the laboratory for use in a bi-directional, 1.55 micron, laser communication system. A disturbance will be generated based on the predictions for aero-optics distortion for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The adaptive optics system will use a liquid crystal spatial light modulator (LCSLM) instead of a continuous surface deformable mirror (DM). A wave optics simulation including models of the EBS and LCSLM will be validated against the laboratory experiment and used to predict performance of an operational system. BENEFIT: Using an EBS for beam steering will allow using a conformal window instead of the dome or turret required for a gimbal. This greatly reduces the aero-optical distortion in addition to reducing weight and power requirements and improving the aerodynamics of the aircraft. Use of the LCSLM instead of the DM further reduces weight and power. Adding the aero-optics predictions and wave optics simulations gives MZA a comprehensive ability to design and deliver a lightweight, low-power laser communications system for a variety of military and civilian aircraft. The light weight, low power, rapid repointing, and small signature of this eye-safe system also make it attractive for other platforms such as ships, ground command posts and stealth aircraft.
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