Optical Communications Laboratory

Optical Comm Facilities
Top:  Optical Communications Detector/Receiver development and characterization laboratory located at JPL.
Bottom:  Optical Communication Telescope Laboratory 1-meter diameter telescope that can support day and nighttime optical links.

The Optical Communications Laboratory consists of several facilities:

  • Laser Communications Laboratory
  • Laser Testing Laboratory
  • Optical Detector and Receiver Testing Laboratory
  • Optical Communication Telescope Laboratory (OCTL) at the Table Mountain Observatory


This laboratory supports a number of ongoing, upcoming and future projects:

  • Optical Payload for Lasercom Science (OPALS): extended mission operations to support optical links from the International Space Station (ISS) to OCTL for specific follow-on studies, including adaptive optics and platform stability measurements.
  • Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) Project: Optical Ground Station (OGS) development is going on in JPL laboratories and will be migrated to OCTL for integration and test activities starting in FY 2018. The LCRD Project will transmit data to a Geostationary satellite for relay to a second asset.
  • Interplanetary CubeSat Project: architecting and testing laser communications from CubeSats at planetary distances. Novel modulation schemes with efficient laser pointing using low size weight and power (SWaP) space terminals are being pursued.
  • Deep Space Laser Communications (DSOC) Project: developing technologies to support a technology demonstration of laser communications from deep-space ranges from a future Discovery or Mars mission. Specific technologies targeted are high-peak-to-average power laser transmitters for photon-efficient optical communications, acquisition and tracking using a dim beacon in space and ground photon-counting detector array development.
  • Atmospheric and weather monitoring: activities at Table Mountain and Goldstone includes years of atmospheric attenuation, sky brightness, atmospheric “seeing” and cloud cover statistics using an instrument suite deployed in the field supported by calibration activities at JPL.