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Star Tracker Based ATP System Conceptual Design and Pointing Accuracy Estimation

By Shinhak Lee and Gerardo G. Orfiz


A star tracker based beaconless (a.k.a. non-cooperative beacon) acquisition, tracking and pointing concept for precisely pointing an optical communication beam is presented as an innovative approach to extend the range of high bandwidth (> 100 Mbps) deep space optical communication links throughout the solar system and to remove the need for a ground based high power laser as a beacon source. The basic approach for executing the ATP functions involves the use of stars as the reference sources from which the attitude knowledge is obtained and combined with high bandwidth gyroscopes for propagating the pointing knowledge to the beam pointing mechanism. Details of the conceptual design are presented including selection of an orthogonal telescope configuration and the introduction of an optical metering scheme to reduce misalignment error. Also, estimates are presented that demonstrate that aiming of the communications beam to the Earth based receive terminal can be achieved with a total system pointing accuracy of better than 850 nanoradians (3 sigma) from anywhere in the solar system

Topics: Communications and Radar
Year: 2006
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