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Prediction of optical communication link availability: real-time observation of cloud patterns using a ground-based thermal infrared camera

Abstract : The growing demand for high-speed broadband communications with low orbital or geostationary satellites is a major challenge. Using an optical link at 1.55 μm is an advantageous solution which potentially can increase the satellite throughput by a factor 10. Nevertheless, cloud cover is an obstacle for this optical frequency. Such communication requires an innovative management system to optimize the optical link availability between a satellite and several Optical Ground Stations (OGS). The Saint-Exupery Technological Research Institute (France) leads the project ALBS (French acronym for BroadBand Satellite Access). This initiative involving small and medium enterprises, industrial groups and research institutions specialized in aeronautics and space industries, is currently developing various solutions to increase the telecommunication satellite bandwidth. This paper presents the development of a preliminary prediction system preventing the cloud blockage of an optical link between a satellite and a given OGS. An infrared thermal camera continuously observes (night and day) the sky vault. Cloud patterns are observed and classified several times a minute. The impact of the detected clouds on the optical beam (obstruction or not) is determined by the retrieval of the cloud optical depth at the wavelength of communication. This retrieval is based on realistic cloud-modelling on libRadtran. Then, using subsequent images, cloud speed and trajectory are estimated. Cloud blockage over an OGS can then be forecast up to 30 minutes ahead. With this information, the preparation of the new link between the satellite and another OGS under a clear sky can be prepared before the link breaks due to cloud blockage.
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  • HAL Id : hal-01649679, version 1
  • OATAO : 18033

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Clément Bertin, Sylvain Cros, Laurent Saint-Antonin, Nicolas Schmutz. Prediction of optical communication link availability: real-time observation of cloud patterns using a ground-based thermal infrared camera. SPIE Remote Sensing 2015, Sep 2015, Toulouse, France. pp. 1-8. ⟨hal-01649679⟩

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