Laser Communication From Space Using Superconducting Detectors - ASC-2014 Plenary series - 12 of 13 - Friday 2014/8/15

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In the fall of 2013, NASA's Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration successfully demonstrated high-rate laser communications between a lunar-orbiting satellite and terrestrial ground stations. The MIT Lincoln Laboratory-designed and built system included a number of novel features both in the space segment and in the ground segment. The 622 Mbps downlink was made possible with only relatively small receive telescopes by employing a novel receiver based on Superconducting Nanowire Single Photon Detector (SNSPD) arrays. In this presentation, we will present an overview of the mission, the drivers on downlink performance, and the Lincoln Laboratory-built SNSPD system that enabled it, including its basic specifications and its supporting electronics.