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.”