Free-space optical (FSO) communication promises to bring fibre-like speeds to data transmissions between ground, sky and space. This is becoming more important in light of the increasing volume of data collected by aircraft and spacecraft. The University of Western Australia (UWA) is commissioning optical ground stations to support FSO communications payloads. We propose retroreflected laser links to drones as a useful step towards further ground-to-sky and ground-to-space FSO communications demonstrations. In this paper, we describe the operation of a hardware testbed for a high photon efficiency optical communication physical layer. This testbed was deployed over a slanted free space link to a drone to verify sub-systems required in communication between the ground station and a spacecraft in cis-Lunar space. Accomplishing this verification of the telescope pointing systems and communications systems would have otherwise been much harder or impossible without using a retroreflected drone link.
|Number of pages||9|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2023|