Australian national university awards contract to Planewave Instruments to build new optical ground

PlaneWave Instruments will supply, deliver, install, provide support, and maintain a 700mm Ritchey-Chrétien Optical Ground Station (OGS) telescope at The Australian National University (ANU). The OGS telescope shall be capable of tracking satellites in LEO, GEO and Deep Space with low tracking error for the purpose of Free-Space Optical Communication (FSOC).

“The collaboration between our entities is dynamic and it will enhance the development of advanced features which include adaptive optics, uplink lasers, quantum communication, RF/optical hybrids and other techniques,” said Francis Bennet Ph.D., Project Lead and Instrumentation Scientist in the ANU Institute for Space. The concept of operations will entail the use of the OGS and current radio-frequency methods in order to take advantage of hardware currently in orbit and those that are planned, including quantum key distribution modules.

“We look forward to the build and contribution towards the research efforts that will enable new communication capabilities for ANU and their partners,” added Ruben Nunez, FSOC Market Segment lead and European Managing Director of PlaneWave Instruments. The OGS telescope is expected to be installed during the first quarter of 2021 at the Mount Stromlo Observatory.

PlaneWave’s 700mm Ritchey-Chrétien (RC700) telescope was designed to offer a central obscuration of less than 30% to improve both image contrast and the efficiency of optical fiber coupling and dual Nasmyth focus ports to setup or mount different optical benches. Matt Dieterich, Technical Services Manager of PlaneWave Instruments said, “PlaneWave’s heritage is founded on pushing the boundaries through advanced product development. We are very excited that our new RC700 has been selected and will play a mission-critical role for ANU.”

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