Research Topic

Free-Space Optical Communications for Satellite Applications

About this Research Topic

Optical communications are increasingly finding application in a variety of space missions, not only in experiments and/or demonstrations, but also for multi-year commercial purposes. This is the case for the optical inter-satellite links of the European data relay system (EDRS) involving two geostationary satellites flying and counting tens of thousands of optical links. The European Space Agency is also preparing an innovative project called High Throughput Optical Network (HydRON) to integrate an all-optical space transport network into the terrestrial fiber-based network. Reacting to this reality, the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) has been defining new specifications for different optical link scenarios through its optical working group (OPT). The first recommended standard in this area deals with high photon efficiency links, such as the ones encountered in deep space missions. The next target for the CCSDS OPT standardization effort is the design of a waveform for optical low Earth orbit direct-to-Earth links. Communication, in this case, shall rely on optical on-off keying and will provide channel data rates from a few Mbps up to 10 Gbps.
The evolution path of free-space optics (FSO) technology is very similar to the evolution seen by the fiber optics technology a decade earlier. As the initial fiber optics were based on single-mode transmission and direct detection, so too is the now state of the art of free-space optics. In the future, some of the more recent technologies adopted in state-of-the-art fiber optics could find applications in FSO and satellite communications, paving the way to new types of architectures, new services, and maybe new communication paradigms.
This Research Topic has the objective of covering novel contributions, including original research and review articles, with emphasis on free-space optical communications for space applications.
Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Novel optical devices and systems design
- Present and future optical communication systems and technologies
- Optical communications technology for next generation applications
- Technologies for optical feeder links and inter-satellite links
- Space optical networks
- Integration of spatial and terrestrial optical networks
- Ranging technology for optical communications
- Optical communication systems for NGSO satellite constellations
- Deep-space optical communications
- Optical communications for Earth observation
- Optical ground support equipment
- Optical simulation and performance prediction
- In-orbit and on-ground demonstrations and missions
- Channel characterization, atmospheric propagation, transmission effects, and compensation techniques
- Diversity techniques for optical satellite communications (e.g., site diversity)
- Coherent and non-coherent modulation formats for space applications
- Multiplexing techniques for optical free-space communications (e.g., wavelength-division multiplexing, orbital angular momentum multiplexing, space-division multiplexing, polarization-division multiplexing)
- Polarization-related effects
- Coherent and non-coherent receivers for space applications
- Analog and digital signal processing for transmitters and receivers (e.g., shaping, predistortion, equalization)
- Trade-offs between optical and microwave (RF) systems
- New mm-wave/THz communication devices and systems
- Optical and photonic components (lasers, modulators, filters, polarizing components, lenses, etc.) for space applications
- Advanced detector concepts and components


Keywords: free-space optics, satellite communications, signal processing, adaptive optics, inter-satellite links


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Optical communications are increasingly finding application in a variety of space missions, not only in experiments and/or demonstrations, but also for multi-year commercial purposes. This is the case for the optical inter-satellite links of the European data relay system (EDRS) involving two geostationary satellites flying and counting tens of thousands of optical links. The European Space Agency is also preparing an innovative project called High Throughput Optical Network (HydRON) to integrate an all-optical space transport network into the terrestrial fiber-based network. Reacting to this reality, the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) has been defining new specifications for different optical link scenarios through its optical working group (OPT). The first recommended standard in this area deals with high photon efficiency links, such as the ones encountered in deep space missions. The next target for the CCSDS OPT standardization effort is the design of a waveform for optical low Earth orbit direct-to-Earth links. Communication, in this case, shall rely on optical on-off keying and will provide channel data rates from a few Mbps up to 10 Gbps.
The evolution path of free-space optics (FSO) technology is very similar to the evolution seen by the fiber optics technology a decade earlier. As the initial fiber optics were based on single-mode transmission and direct detection, so too is the now state of the art of free-space optics. In the future, some of the more recent technologies adopted in state-of-the-art fiber optics could find applications in FSO and satellite communications, paving the way to new types of architectures, new services, and maybe new communication paradigms.
This Research Topic has the objective of covering novel contributions, including original research and review articles, with emphasis on free-space optical communications for space applications.
Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:
- Novel optical devices and systems design
- Present and future optical communication systems and technologies
- Optical communications technology for next generation applications
- Technologies for optical feeder links and inter-satellite links
- Space optical networks
- Integration of spatial and terrestrial optical networks
- Ranging technology for optical communications
- Optical communication systems for NGSO satellite constellations
- Deep-space optical communications
- Optical communications for Earth observation
- Optical ground support equipment
- Optical simulation and performance prediction
- In-orbit and on-ground demonstrations and missions
- Channel characterization, atmospheric propagation, transmission effects, and compensation techniques
- Diversity techniques for optical satellite communications (e.g., site diversity)
- Coherent and non-coherent modulation formats for space applications
- Multiplexing techniques for optical free-space communications (e.g., wavelength-division multiplexing, orbital angular momentum multiplexing, space-division multiplexing, polarization-division multiplexing)
- Polarization-related effects
- Coherent and non-coherent receivers for space applications
- Analog and digital signal processing for transmitters and receivers (e.g., shaping, predistortion, equalization)
- Trade-offs between optical and microwave (RF) systems
- New mm-wave/THz communication devices and systems
- Optical and photonic components (lasers, modulators, filters, polarizing components, lenses, etc.) for space applications
- Advanced detector concepts and components


Keywords: free-space optics, satellite communications, signal processing, adaptive optics, inter-satellite links


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

09 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

09 June 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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