Preliminary results of terabit-per-second long-range free-space optical transmission experiment THRUST
Future Very High Throughput Satellite Systems (VHTS) will perform at several Tbit/s throughput and thus face the challenge of limited feeder-link spectrum. Whereas with conventional RF feeder links several tens of ground gateway stations would be required, the total capacity can alternatively be linked through a single optical ground station using Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) techniques as known from terrestrial fiber communications. While intermittent link blockage by clouds can be compensated by ground station diversity, the optical uplink signal is directly affected by scintillation and beam wander induced by the atmospheric index-of-refraction turbulence. The transmission system must be capable to mitigate these distortions by according high-speed tracking and fading compensation techniques. We report on the design of a near-ground long-range (10km) atmospheric transmission test-bed which is, with its relatively low elevation of 1.8 degrees, exemplary for a worst case GEO uplink scenario. The transmitting side of the test-bed consists of a single telescope with a a fine pointing assembly in order to track the atmospheric angle-of-arrival and precisely aim towards the beacon of the receiver. On the other side of the test-bed, the receiver telescope is also capable of fine pointing by tracking the transmitted signal The GEO uplink scenario is modelled by a precise scaling of the beam divergence and the receiver's field of view as well as by the beacon offset to model the point-ahead angle. In order to make the experimental test-bed correspond to an actual feeder link scenario, the link budget as well as the turbulence profile of the experimental scenario are modelled and compared to the GEO uplink Several DWDM channels are multiplexed to reach the total link capacity of above one Tbit/s. We report on the preparatory lab tests, and the free-space test-bed design and verification, of the Terabit Throughput Satellite Technology Project THRUST.