NASA to Test Integrated Photonics Modem for Laser Communications

An integrated photonics modem will be tested aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2020 as part of NASA’s multiyear Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). The cell phone-sized device incorporates optics-based components, such as lasers, switches and wires, onto a microchip.

Once aboard the space station, the Integrated LCRD LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) will serve as a low-Earth orbit terminal for the LCRD.

Integrated photonics technology has a range of potential applications in telecommunications, medical imaging, advanced manufacturing and national defense, and offers high data rates that radio frequency-based communications, NASA said.

“Integrated photonics are like an integrated circuit, except they use light rather than electrons to perform a wide variety of optical functions,” said Don Cornwell, director of NASA’s Advanced Communication and Navigation Division. Read more

Source: photonics.com

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