The proposed research goal is to develop a visible light communication system that will enable an inter-satellite communication (ISC) system for a large number of heterogeneous small satellites to provide robust, flexible and high data rate communication. This will enable command, control, configuration, and information processing in real-time. Though the focus of this proposed work is to enable ISC, due to the fact that transmitting information based around free space optics is less susceptible to radiation effects it can also be used in extreme environments of the moon and Mars. This would allow the development of planetary sensor networks and Internet of Things (IoT) operations without interruptions in communication due to strong solar winds and other radiation events.
This application would eliminate the need for heavy wire bundles as well as potential electro-magnetic interference created as high-speed data travels along databuses with a spacecraft. Future satellite systems require increasing datarates since instruments are increasing in the volume and bandwidth of data generated. This is true for both sensing/remote sensing spacecraft. Our ISC system can enable high speed links for extreme bandwidth constellations of small satellites currently being developed and proposed.
Potential future applications for the system include terrestrial optics-based high speed data links in ground, undersea or air transportation systems. Underwater communication is currently limited in bandwidth due to RF systems being significantly attenuated in water so that optical systems are an extremely viable alternative.