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News, features & press releases



Revolutionary Capability in an Evolutionary Manner



• Combine the best features of select deep space radio frequency (RF) and optical communication elements into an integrated system

• Prototype and demonstrate performance of key components to increase Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), leading to integrated hybrid communications system demonstration

Figure 1. Optimizing component integration of an RF/optical communication system.


• Offers potential 40x (optical) and 16x (RF) data rates with comparable MRO payload mass

• Reduces deep space mission risk for transition to optical communication technology by integrating highly capable and robust RF system (extensible design beyond Mars)

• Operates without requirement for uplink laser beacon

Figure 2. Lightweight 3m Ka-band mesh/25cm optical composite mirror teletenna subsystem.

Key Enabling Technologies:

• Beaconless acquisition through sensor fusion • RF/optical Software Defined Radio (SDR)

• Combined RF/optical Teletenna • Networked RF/optical link management

Figure 3. iROC link management via Delay/Disruption/Disconnection Tolerant Networking (DTN).

Figure 4. DTN unites the RF and optical links to form a cohesive system.

Figure 5. Formulation of potential iROC technology demonstrations to retire risk.

Integrated RF and Optical Communications (iROC) Information

Project Manager: Nang Pham,
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Daniel Raible,
Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Robert Romanofsky,

Integrated RF and Optical Communications (iROC) News

Increasing the Speed of Deep Space Communications July 9, 2013