Recognized for Efforts to Improve Deep Space Communication
By Gabriella McNevin
Assistant Professor Jonathan Klamkin (ECE, MSE) is one of seven university researchers nationwide to receive the 2014 NASA Early Career Faculty Award. The recognition honors early career faculty focused on space technology that address critical needs in the US space program.
Since joining Boston University in 2013, Klamkin’s impressive accomplishments include, winning the College of Engineering Dean’s Catalyst Award in 2013 and being elevated to Senior Member status of the IEEE in 2014.
Klamkin caught NASA’s attention with a proposal to develop integrated laser transmitter technology for deep space communications. NASA recently completed a mission, the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD), which demonstrated high-rate laser communication between Earth and the Moon. Now NASA wants to further this technology for future missions to Mars, and Klamkin will develop technology to allow for such deep space communication.
High-rate space communication is made possible by laser communication transmitters. The laser sends data to Earth through space similar to how ground-based lasers send data over fiber-optic cables for the Internet.
With funding from the NASA grant and partnerships with MIT Lincoln Laboratory and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Klamkin expects to apply photonic integrated circuit technology to reduce the size, weight, and power of space laser transmitters. Photonic integration is a means to integrate several photonic functions on a chip in a manner analogous to integrating transistors in an electronic integrated circuit. Klamkin hopes that this technology will inspire new design methodologies for space laser transmitter hardware.
NASA’s Early Career Faculty Award will serve as a benchmark to measure the achievements to come for Professor Klamkin. To put the award into perspective, Michael Gazarik of NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate said, “Technology drives exploration, and these researchers will provide fuel for NASA’s innovation engine.”