What's the problem?

Communications systems are vitally importance to space exploration; however, the power requirements of current satellite communication methods are too often a system's limiting factor, especially in space, where every spare gram is a costly excess. This study investigates how to harness the energy of the Sun for communication, and how exactly that change affects the system's accuracy.

We are inspired by this inspired illustration

Our Approach

In approaching this problem, the developers took inspiration from the heliograph, a simple nineteenth-century communication device which sends messages over large distances, using a mirror to reflect and deflect sunlight. This study took the main concept of the heliograph---using modulated sunlight to encode information---and improved it with twenty-first century technological advances in hardware and software in order to create and characterize the solar optical data transfer system (SODSys). However, in order to truly improve communication, the study needed to explore whether the performance of such a system could adhere to modern standards of accuracy and speed. Consequently, this study focuses primarily on characterizing the error within the solar optical system.