The Moon Gets Broadband Wireless Connection

Working from moon? Well forget dial-up speeds. A team of MIT and NASA researchers is representing a laser-based data communication technology that delivers space workers with the connectivity we have on Earth. That means huge data transfers and other stuff like high-definition video streaming from and on the surface of the moon. Last fall, the on-orbit presentation of their moon-to-Earth uplink crushed earlier transmission speed records. Now they’ve got the fundamental physics fixed out, and they think the technology could even spread into deep-space operations to Mars.
Image Credit: NASA  & Robert LaFon

The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) transferred over 384,633 kilometers between here and the moon at a download rate of 622 megabits per second. They also transferred data from Earth to the moon at 19.44 megabits per second. It is 4,800 times quicker than the best radio frequency uplink ever used.


Mark Stevens of MIT Lincoln Laboratory states in a news statement. “Communicating at high data rates from Earth to the moon with laser beams is challenging because of the 400,000-kilometer distance spreading out the light beam. It’s doubly difficult going through the atmosphere, because turbulence can bend light -- causing rapid fading or dropouts of the signal at the receiver.”


To escape a dying signal over such a distance, they employed numerous techniques to help overcome a widespread variety of atmospheric circumstances, in both darkness and light, and over clouds in our atmosphere.  A ground station (as visualized below) at White Sands, New Mexico, uses four telescopes to direct the uplink signal to the moon. Each telescope is about 15 centimeters in diameter and served by a laser transmitter that sends info coded as pulses of infrared light. The four distinct transmitters combined outcomes in 40 watts of power.
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC 

The efforts made will be presented at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) next month.  Each telescope transfers light through a altered column of air experiencing different twisting effects from the atmosphere. This upsurge the chance that at least one of the laser beams will relate with the receiver attached on a satellite that’s circling the moon.

The receiver (as illustrated in the top photo) gathers the light using a narrow telescope. The light is concentrated into an optical fiber, and the signal is enlarged 30,000 times. The pulses of light are transformed into electrical pulses, and these, ultimately, are renewed into data bit shapes that transport the transmitted message.



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The Moon Gets Broadband Wireless Connection The Moon Gets Broadband Wireless Connection Reviewed by Umer Abrar on 5/30/2014 Rating: 5

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