NASA to test space laser communications system

Spacecraft sometimes use radio-based communication methods to speak to Earth. However sooner or later, lasers could grow to be a part of astronauts’ communications arsenal.

Late final month, NASA introduced that its subsequent resupply mission to the Worldwide Area Station will embody a terminal that, as soon as put in, will assist display the good thing about laser communication, enable extra knowledge to be transmitted to and from house, and speed up discoveries concerning the universe.

The know-how brings vital advantages for astronauts and scientists. The invisible lasers used within the experiment are on the infrared spectrum and might pack as much as 100 occasions extra knowledge right into a single transmission than radio-based methods. This might velocity up analysis on Earth, and the brand new relay would make it simpler for missions to get laser communications to the planet’s floor.

NASA officers say the refrigerator-sized relay will enable astronauts on the house station to ship high-resolution knowledge, together with photos and video. The communications will first go from the house station to the relay, then be handed on to floor stations in Hawaii and California.

“We are integrating this technology on demonstrations near Earth, at the Moon, and in deep space,” Badri Younes, former deputy affiliate administrator for NASA’s Area Communications and Navigation program, mentioned in a information launch.

The present machine has a leg up on previous laser experiments. When NASA proved it might transmit and obtain laser communications from lunar orbit in 2013, for instance, it transmitted at a price of simply 622 megabits per second. In distinction, the present machine transmits knowledge at 1.2 gigabits per second.

If the present experiment proves profitable, the house company says it could grow to be a everlasting a part of NASA’s communications platform and will in the future be used farther away on missions to the moon, Mars and different components of house.

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