The optical communication link outage probability in satellite formation flying

Shlomi Arnon, Eberhard Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In recent years, several space systems consisting of multiple satellites flying in close formation have been proposed for various purposes such as interferometric synthetic aperture radar measurement (TerraSAR-X and the TanDEM-X), detecting extra-solar earth-like planets (Terrestrial Planet Finder-TPF and Darwin), and demonstrating distributed space systems (DARPA F6 project). Another important purpose, which is the concern of this paper, is for improving radio frequency communication to mobile terrestrial and maritime subscribers. In this case, radio frequency signals from several satellites coherently combine such that the received/transmit signal strength is increased proportionally with the number of satellites in the formation. This increase in signal strength allows to enhance the communication data rate and/or to reduce energy consumption and the antenna size of terrestrial mobile users' equipment. However, a coherent combination of signals without aligning the phases of the individual communication signals interrupts the communication and outage link between the satellites and the user. The accuracy of the phase estimation is a function of the inter-satellite laser ranging system performance. This paper derives an outage probability model of a coherent combination communication system as a function of the pointing vibration and jitter statistics of an inter-satellite laser ranging system tool. The coherent combination probability model, which could be used to improve the communication to mobile subscribers in air, sea and ground is the main importance of this work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Distance finding
  • Free-space digital communication
  • Free-space optical communication
  • Jitter
  • Laser distance finder
  • Satellite formation flying
  • Vibration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering


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