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Experimental Evaluation of Optically Polished Aluminum Panels on the Deep Space Network's 34 Meter AntennaThe potential development of large aperture ground?based "photon bucket" optical receivers for deep space communications has received considerable attention recently. One approach currently under investigation is to polish the aluminum reflector panels of 34?meter microwave antennas to high reflectance, and accept the relatively large spotsize generated by state of?the?art polished aluminum panels. Theoretical analyses of receiving antenna pointing, temporal synchronization and data detection have been addressed in previous papers. Here we describe the experimental effort currently underway at the Deep Space Network (DSN) Goldstone Communications Complex in California, to test and verify these concepts in a realistic operational environment. Two polished aluminum panels (a standard DSN panel polished to high reflectance, and a custom designed aluminum panel with much better surface quality) have been mounted on the 34 meter research antenna at Deep?Space Station 13 (DSS?13), and a remotely controlled CCD camera with a large CCD sensor in a weather?proof container has been installed next to the subreflector, pointed directly at the custom polished panel. The point?spread function (PSF) generated by the Vertex polished panel has been determined to be smaller than the sensor of the CCD camera, hence a detailed picture of the PSF can be obtained every few seconds, and the sensor array data processed to determine the center of the intensity distribution. In addition to estimating the center coordinates, expected communications performance can also been evaluated with the recorded data. The results of preliminary pointing experiments with the Vertex polished panel receiver using the planet Jupiter to simulate the PSF generated by a deep?space optical transmitter are presented and discussed in this paper.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Vilnrotter, V. (Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
April 17, 2015
Publication Date
March 5, 2011
Subject Category
Communications and Radar
Meeting Information
2011 IEEE Aerospace Conference(Big Sky, MT)
Distribution Limits
optical receiver
optical communications