SPACE FLIGHT SYSTEMS RADIOISOTOPE POWER SYSTEMS PROGRAM OFFICE NATIONAL CENTER FOR SPACE EXPLORATION RESEARCH EXTERNAL PARTNERS EDUCATION/OUTREACH SPACE EXPLORATION BENEFITS PROGRAM SUPPORT



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Integrated RF and Optical Communications (iROC)


iROC LogoWhat is iROC?

The iROC project will develop technologies to answer the question:
Given the strong and continued momentum of development in the RF domain, what can be done from an integration standpoint to optically enhance the performance of a deep-space RF communications system?

 

Why Optical Communications?

•Will grow out of present RF Ka-band standardization
–Higher data rate trends
–Goal: Don’t let communications capability constrain the science on our missions
•Optical spectrum unbounded/regulated
•Lower transceiver size, weight and power (SWaP)
•Component technology is here now
•Able to transmit while maintaining radio silence during sensitive scientific measurements
•Goal: Minimum spacecraft resources devoted to communications while maximizing data throughput
–Weight: expensive to launch
–Power: expensive in space



Why Optical Communications?

Depending on the mission application, an optical communications solution could achieve…
•~50% savings in mass
–Reduced mass enables decreased spacecraft cost and/or increased science through more mass for the instruments
•~65% savings in power
–Reduced power enables increased mission life and/or increased science measurements
•Up to 20-fold increase in data rate
–Increased data rates enable increased data collection and reduced mission operations complexity

                                                                                                                            …over existing RF solutions

Integrated RF and Optical Communications News