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Satellite Communication with Laser Beams: The Next Wave

Monday, July 11, 2016
8:30am to 12:30pm
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All interested students, faculty and researchers are invited to attend a Keck Institute for Space Studies short course on –

Satellite Communication with Laser Beams: The Next Wave

  • 8:00 A.M. Coffee
  • 8:30 A.M. - 12:30 P.M. Short Course
  • 12:30 P.M. – informal lunch is provided for all attendees


Communication is an essential capability all spacecraft require for scientific exploration of space. Whether in Earth orbit or distant regions of our solar system, a two-way connection between ground stations and flight missions enables commanding, navigation, and transmission of telemetry and scientific data. For decades, NASA has relied on a mature network infrastructure based on radio frequency (RF) technology. Now, a new approach using laser light is being developed for its potential to significantly increase the speed of communication allowing much more data to be returned from our observations of Earth and other planets.

This short course will explain the key principles behind optical communication, and provide a historical review of the achievements of NASA, the European Space Agency, and Japan's National Institute of Information and Communication Technology to demonstrate its functionality on satellites. The advantages that communications with lasers can provide to future space missions will be discussed, as well as the outstanding challenges and risks that must be addressed in order to realize this goal. This course is open to JPL and Caltech staff, faculty, and students, and will be presented by a diverse group of scientists, engineers, and professors with experience in the field.


  • Dr. Suzana Sburlan (JPL) and Dr. Michael Kueppers ( European Space Agency) - "Introduction to Optical Communication for 
  • Dr. Bryan Robinson (MIT Lincoln Laboratory) and Dr. Frank Heine (Tesat Spacecom) - "Optical Communication Flight Systems"
  • Dr. Moria Toyoshima (NICT) - "NICTs Optical Communication Projects and Ground Station Development"
  • Prof. Harlan Spence (Univ. of New Hampshire) and Dr. Renny Fields (The Aerospace Corporation) - "Optical Communication for SmallSats and CubeSats"

For more details, go to:

The closest parking available is: the Parking Lot 12. You may use a JPL hang tag, or obtain a free parking pass for the event from the JPL parking office. Otherwise, you may buy a permit from the kiosk.

Seating is first come, first served. No registration is required for this free event.

For more information, please contact Michele Judd by phone at 626-395-6630 or by email at [email protected] or visit Satellite Communication with Laser Beams – The Next Wave.