Laser Instrumentation

Title: Laser Communication for Space Missions
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Volker Quetschke

Mini satellites, aka CubeSats, are becoming more and more interesting to perform research projects in space. These satellites are reasonably priced and can be launched from NASA or SpaceX rockets as part of university research projects. One major problem is the communication with CubeSats because their small size prohibits the use of large solar panels and therefore limits the available power. The power limitation directly limits the RF communication abilities of those satellites with ground stations. The current research at UTRGV includes practical aspects of laser communication. Laser communication is strongly directional and therefore limits the required power consumption. As part of this project REU students or RET teachers can be involved in multiple stages, from controlling the direction of the laser beam to setting up a realistic testbed for small angular changes of the incoming beam on the satellite beam and the effect on transmission efficiency.