Today, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, has revealed that it has set to test laser communication technology, which can send data at 1.2Gbps by December 5th.
NASA has long used radio frequency systems to communicate with astronauts and aircraft, but the old technology has gradually become overburdened as the need for data transmission has grown.
In this aspect, NASA’s planned Laser Communications Relay Demonstration might fundamentally alter how the agency communicates with future missions around the solar system.
According to NASA, the new laser communication method can bring more high-definition films and photographs from orbit. The mission will launch as a payload on the US Department of Defense Space Test Program Satellite 6 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on December 5th, with the launch window remaining available between 4:04 AM and 6:04 AM Eastern Time (Beijing Time 17:04 to 19:04).
NASA has used radio waves to communicate with astronauts and space missions since 1958. Despite the fact that radio waves have previously been used to perform missions, space missions are getting increasingly sophisticated and collecting more data than ever before.
The laser communication system will transfer data to the earth from an orbit 35,406 kilometers above the surface that is synced with the earth’s rotation. The data transmission speed is 1.2Gbps, which is equivalent to downloading a full movie in one minute.
This will speed up data transport, which will be 10 to 100 times faster than radio waves. Infrared lasers, which are invisible to the naked eye, have shorter wavelengths than radio waves, allowing them to send more data at once. It takes nine weeks to send back a comprehensive map of Mars using the present radio wave system, but it only takes nine days with the laser method.
NASA’s first end-to-end laser relay system will send and receive data between space and two optical ground stations on Table Mountain, California, and Haleakala, Hawaii. These locations have telescopes capable of receiving laser light and converting it to digital data.
The laser communication receiver, unlike the radio antenna, may be downsized to only 1/44 of its original volume. The satellite is a real two-way system because it can send and receive data.
Other works projects that could test laser communication include the Orion Artemis II optical communication system, which will allow NASA and Artemis astronauts to supervise their moon missions. Video transmission is in high definition.