Space Flight of 2.2 Micron Wavelength, Extended InGaAs OpticalReceivers to the International Space Station (2020)


Abhay M. Joshi* & Shubhashish Datta
Discovery Semiconductors Inc., Ewing, NJ, USA


We present pre and post space flight test results of 2.2 micron InGaAs Photodiode and GaAs Transimpedance Amplifier (TIA), Optical Receivers that flew to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment 9 (MISSE-9) payload. The two optical receivers having two different RF packages exhibit bandwidth of 9 GHz or more, and were fiber coupled with a single mode fiber. They were launched in April 2018 to the ISS, and returned to Earth in June 2019 for a cumulative time period of over 13 months. During their time on the ISS, we noted the entry and exit points into the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA) on a daily basis, and thus, recorded the total time the Extended InGaAs Optical Receivers were exposed to it. It has been shown that the exposure to heavy ions and protons, especially during the SAA transit, cause the most failures to electronic components. We also recorded the daily temperatures they were exposed to during their stay on the ISS, as well as the cumulative radiation dose they experienced through a dedicated dosimeter placed in close proximity to the devices.

After analyzing the pre and post flight data on dark current, quantum efficiency, bandwidth, bit error rate, and other 14 different parameters, we did not observe any major degradation in the two device’s performance. Additionally, both RF packages, did not suffer any damage due to the mechanical shock and vibration of the space flight, including the launch and return to Earth.


Comprehensive space qualification of Extended InGaAs Photodiodes and Photoreceivers with wavelength coverage in the Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) from 1 µm to 2.5 µm wavelength is needed for multiple space based applications, such as coherent LIDAR having rapid Doppler shifts for wind profiling, direct detection of back-scattered sunlight for spectroscopic sensing, long wavelength gravitational wave sensing, and free-space optical communication links with bandwidths up to 400 Gbps. Although such devices have been commercially available for terrestrial analog and digital applications, significant testing is required beyond MIL-STD-883 and Telcordia Bellcore GR-468 to qualify them for space applications. With this objective in mind, we have undertaken a multi-year effort to qualify Extended InGaAs devices, which includes a combination of comprehensive radiation testing in laboratory as well as space flights.

We have recently reported 2.2 µm wavelength, Extended InGaAs linear optical receivers up to 8 GHz bandwidth assembled in fiber-pigtailed, hermetically-sealed microwave package, which have passed several radiation tests, including 30 MeV Protons, 15 krad Gamma Rays, 1 GeV/n He (Helium) ions and 1 GeV/n Fe (Iron) ions, with fluence levels corresponding to 10+ year long space missions [1]. In this work, we present successful space flight of two similar devices on-board the International Space Station (ISS) for over 13 months as part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment 9 (MISSE-9) mission, during which they were simultaneously subjected to all aspects of the space environment, including Proton radiation, Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR), ultra-violet radiation, ultra-high vacuum, and exposure to atomic oxygen. Also, the devices were subjected to shock and mechanical vibrations during the space launch to the ISS, as well as their return to Earth. The detailed test results presented here show that both devices were fully operational after their space flight and passed reliability specifications.


Event: SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing, 2020, Online Only, California, United States


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