Dual-Mode Optical Interrogator (DMOI)
In October 2002, NovaSol was awarded a large multi-year contract by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) for engineering and development in Free Space Optical (FSO) communications. The object of this program is to develop a low powered optical laser link intended for a family of high bandwidth "last mile" communication systems between ships, planes, and ground units.
Concept of operation.
Under this contract NovaSol developed a Dual Mode Optical Interrogator (DMOI). The initial "alpha" unit of this system was delivered to NRL in July, 2004.
Video: NRL alpha unit (Choose 'Save' option. 6.5MB)
With this system, the Interrogator tracks and communicates with a small moving Remote Unit within a distance of 2 miles at 10Mbps.
In its primary mode, the Interrogator transmits a laser beam to a Remote Unit that modulates a data stream onto the beam and reflects it back to the Interrogator. The Remote Station in this link is based on an ultra-lightweight and low-power Modulating Retroreflector, so a high-bandwidth downlink can be established with minimal payload demand. All of the heavy, power-hungry equipment is located on the ground in the Interrogator, which tracks the remote as well as transmitting the communications beam.
Concept of free space optical communications.
In the second mode, two Interrogator units communicate directly with each other, affording data rates of gigabits per second over ranges of 20-50 kilometers. NovaSol is fusing modulator laser technology with precision pointing to produce a series of Interrogators adapted to a wide variety of "power to the edge" uses. This equipment will facilitate rapid deployment of agile ad-hoc networks required by our military’s transformational objectives. We are vigorously exploring new concepts to extend the range of applicability of this technology with a family of Interrogators and Remotes of various sizes and capabilities. In May 2007, NovaSol's new Compact Interrogator participated in a data exfiltration exercise, collecting data from a maneuvering sea-going vessel.