Thursday March 23, 2017

NASA Takes First Steps toward High-Speed Space "Internet"

In order to keep astronauts sane with high-quality Netflix and YouTube, NASA is testing speedy internet between the ISS and Earth with the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). As you could probably assume, the space agency is going to use lasers for data transmission, and such tests will show them how to best go about it.

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Laser communications, also known as optical communications, encodes data onto a beam of light, which is then transmitted between spacecraft and eventually to Earth terminals. This technology offers data rates that are 10 to 100 times better than current radio-frequency (RF) communications systems. Just as important, laser communication systems can be much smaller than radio systems, allowing the spacecraft communication systems to have lower size, weight and power requirements. Such capability will become critically important as humans embark on long journeys to the moon, Mars and beyond.

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