Story 1/3

Partnering with NASA in Deep Space Optical Communication

As humankind pushes deeper and deeper into space, there is an urgent need for sensitive, robust and lightweight communication between spacecraft and earth. Deep space optical communication is gaining influence as an alternative to radio frequency (RF) methods for a number of reasons, including superior data bandwidths (not to be confused with spectral bandwidths), smaller mass and footprint, and lower power requirements compared to RF. To that end, NASA awarded Omega an SBIR Phase 1 contract with the goal of minimizing noise in detection as well as rejecting extraneous light to maximize overall through-put in deep space laser communications. To help NASA reach its objectives, Omega has drawn on over 30 years of expertise in the manufacture of Hydrogen-alpha ultra narrow-band filters to develop similar filters in the 1550 nm region. Omega's filters enable a 40-fold increase in data bandwidth while significantly reducing weight and power consumption. To combat noise in the detection system, Omega has designed filters with FWHM < 0.2 nm, out-of-band blocking at OD 5 and peak transmissions greater than 95%. Narrow bandwidths and deep blocking allow closely spaced laser lines to be detected simultaneously and with minimal interference from nearby celestial objects (other planets, the moon or sun). To read more about Omega's ultra-narrow bandpass filters, see the papers and presentations listed below.

 

Ultra-Narrow Bandpass Filters for Infrared Applications with Improved Angle of Incidence Performance
Proc. SPIE 9822, Advanced Optics for Defense Applications: UV through LWIR, 982211 (May 18, 2016); http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.2225113

 

Sub-Nanometer Bandpass Coatings for LIDAR and Astronomy
Proc. SPIE 9612, Lidar Remote Sensing for Environmental Monitoring XV, 96120K (September 1, 2015); http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.2208368