Project focus

  • Analysis of free-space optical communication properties and requirements.
  • Development and integration of an adaptive optical compensation system for free-space optical communication into a small-sized telescope.
  • Dual stage actuation of the adaptive optical system and the telescope mount.


This project aims to integrate adaptive optics (AO) technology into small to medium-sized telescope systems of the industrial partner, ASA Astrosysteme, in order to enable free space optical (FSO) communication between satellites and optical ground stations. Compared to radio-frequency communication, this yields a potential increase of the data rate of more than 1 order of magnitude, while simultaneously significantly reducing the emitting power and weight on the satellite. Furthermore, optical frequencies do not require licensing.

Based on an integrated, mechatronic approach, the proposed AO system focuses on high performance and cost efficient realization to enable FSO communication with small to medium-sized telescopes operating as optical ground stations. The resulting telescope system will provide a stable laser-link between corresponding satellites and the developed optical ground station, enabling FSO communication at unprecedented data rates, while simultaneously reducing energy consumption of the emitter at the satellite.


Optical setup with active tip-tilt compensation for reflective optical communication.

Adaptive optics for optical communication

Atmospheric turbulences, as well as vibrations of the telescope system, significantly affect the performance of optical communication links. To ensure a reliable satellite link with high data-rates and low BER, these disturbances are compensated by means of an adaptive optical system. Utilizing a high performance tip-tilt compensation system in combination with a higher order aberration correction system, the influence of atmospheric turbulences and vibrations onto the communication performance is minimized.


This figure shows the measured pointing error (tilt-axis) without and with active tip-tilt compensation for a 600 m reflective optical communication link in urban environment.

Adaptive optical setup for free-space optical communication.


U-LEO FSO communication link

Optical communication link over a distance of 300 m between two buildings of TU Wien.


Optical ground station

By integration and well balanced control of the developed adaptive optical system into an existing, high-precision telescope mount (developed in TracSat), an optical ground station for optical satellite communication is implemented.


  • Optical satellite communication
  • Astronomy applications
  • Satellite laser ranging

Related Publications

  • A. Sinn, T. Riel, F. Deisl, R. Saathof, and G. Schitter, Low-Power Reflective Optical Communication System for Pico- and Nano-Satellites, in AMOS 2016 Proceedings, 2016, p. 1403–1410.
    Title = {Low-Power Reflective Optical Communication System for Pico- and Nano-Satellites},
    Author = {Sinn, Andreas and Riel, Thomas and Deisl, Florian and Saathof, Rudolf and Schitter, Georg},
    Booktitle = {AMOS 2016 Proceedings},
    Year = {2016},
    Note = {Posterpr{\"a}sentation: Advanced Maui Optical Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS) 2016, Wailea, Hawaii (USA); 2016-09-20 -- 2016-09-23},
    Pages = {1403--1410}
  • A. Sinn, T. Riel, F. Deisl, and G. Schitter, Tip-tilt vibration compensation: A system analysis, in Proceedings of 2017 Spring Topical Meeting on Precision Engineering and Optics: What are the Limits of Precision, and How to Characterize Them?, 2017, pp. 42-47.
    Title = {Tip-tilt vibration compensation: A system analysis},
    Author = {Sinn, A. and Riel, T. and Deisl, F. and Schitter, G.},
    Booktitle = {Proceedings of 2017 Spring Topical Meeting on Precision Engineering and Optics: What are the Limits of Precision, and How to Characterize Them?},
    Year = {2017},
    Pages = {42-47}

Project partners

  • ASA Astrosysteme GmbH


  • FFG – Die Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft
  • ASA Astrosysteme GmbH