Large-volume data delivery from low-Earth orbit to ground using efficient single-mode optical receivers
Space systems operating in low-Earth orbit are often constrained by how much data can be delivered from space to ground. Traditional data delivery approaches are often limited by either large link losses associated with transmission via a geosynchronous relay satellite or short contact times and spectrum-constrained data rates associated with direct-to-Earth radio-frequency links. Direct-to-Earth optical communication links from low-Earth orbit based on fiber telecommunications technologies that can operate at high data rates (> 100 Gb/s per wavelength channel) can enable the delivery of extremely large volumes of data from space to ground. We analyze the performance of such systems and discuss the performance gains that are enabled by coupling the received signal to an efficient single-mode-fiber-based receiver, even in the presence of turbulence-induced losses.