About the Group

Laser satellite communications provide a bright perspective for satellite communications. Currently, satellite communications using radio frequencies (RF) run into limitations in terms of available frequency slots, data throughput, and security. At the same time, the demand for data volume and security is increasing. Laser satellite communications have the potential to supplement satellite RF communications to provide for that need.

Our Laser Satellite Communications expert group consists of PhD-candidates from different TU Delft faculties (Aerospace Engineering and Civil Engineering), MSc students from Aerospace Engineering that do their MSc thesis on laser satellite communications, and University staff working on this topic. Given the availability of equipment for optical fibre communications, we advance the understanding of the challenges to bring optical communications to and from space. This involves research on optical propagation through free space, through atmospheric turbulence and the understanding of atmospheric turbulence.

We also focus on novel techniques, such as the multi-beam terminal and applications that use optical communications, such as ranging. With the acquired knowledge of the challenges, we contribute to the development of mitigation techniques such as Adaptive Optics, that are relevant for our industrial partners.


Research Projects

Opto-thermo-mechanical modelling of the optical payload

Optical and quantum communication satellites will be exposed to periodic thermo-mechanical loads that will affect the optical performance of the system. In this project, mathematical and computational optical models are built to better understand and quantify the impact of these phenomena. This project focuses on optimizing the performance of satellite optical and quantum communications through beam-shaping techniques, and the robustness of these beams to onboard opto-thermo-mechanical perturbations.

M. (Mario) Badás Aldecocea
PhD Candidate

J.J. (Joshua) Spaander
PhD Candidate

R. (Rashika) Jain
PhD Candidate

M. (Marguerite) Arvis
PhD Candidate

M. (Maximilian) Pierzyna
PhD Candidate



FSOC Testbed

The aim of the facility is to support understanding of the behaviour of the optical channel in the presence of turbulence, the interaction of the optical channel with the opto-mechatronic equipment and the development of novel technologies to improve channel performance. To that end, it consists of sky observation equipment, that monitors cloud cover, turbulence and optical attraction, and an optical ground station that intends to observe the integral effect of the opto-mechatronic system and the turbulence.

The aim of the FSOC testbed is to provide an experimentation environment to test and develop novel technologies. Several optical breadboards and a variety of optical, opto-electronic, and communications equipment are available for laboratory and in-field testing. This offers researchers as well as students the opportunity to build, develop and test their ideas in a laboratory environment and in real life.


Opto-thermo-mechanical phenomena in satellite free space optical communications: survey and challenges

M. Badas Aldecocea, P. Piron, J. Bouwmeester, J.J.D. Loicq, J.M. Kuiper, E.K.A. Gill

Π-ML: A dimensional analysis-based machine learning parameterization of optical turbulence in the atmospheric surface layer Maximilian Pierzyna, Rudolf Saathof, and Sukanta Basu
Latency-constrained fading mitigation for coherent optical feeder links based on space-time-frequency coding Wim Korevaar, Rudolf Saathof, Tara van Abkoude, and Niek Doelman
Adaptive optics pre-correction demonstrator for terabit optical communication Kristiaan Broekens, Wimar Klop, Thijs Moens, Martin Eschen, Gustavo Castro do Amaral, Fabrizio Silverstri, Aleid Oosterwijk, Martijn Visser, Niek Doelman, Lauren Kaffa, Rudolf Saathof, Ivan Ferrario
Fundamental Challenges for Laser Satellite Communications and Quantum Key Distribution Rudolf Saathof, Stefano Speretta, Jian Guo, Hans Kuiper, and Eberhard Gill
A Space Multi-Beam Multi-Link Capable Laser Communications Terminal for Satellites

Joshua Spaander, Jian Guo