Broadband Wireless Connection…to the Moon!
If future generations were to live and work on the moon or on a distant asteroid, they would probably want a broadband connection to communicate with home bases back on Earth. They may even want to watch their favorite Earth-based TV show.
That may now be possible thanks to a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory who, working with NASA, demonstrated for the first time that a data communication technology exists that can provide space dwellers with the connectivity we all enjoy here on Earth, enabling large data transfers and even high-definition video streaming.
At CLEO: 2014, being held June 8-13 in San Jose, California, USA, the team will present new details and the first comprehensive overview of the on-orbit performance of their record-shattering laser-based communication uplink between the moon and Earth, which beat the previous record transmission speed last fall by a factor of 4,800.
“This will be the first time that we present both the implementation overview and how well it actually worked,” says Mark Stevens of MIT Lincoln Laboratory. “The on-orbit performance was excellent and close to what we’d predicted, giving us confidence that we have a good understanding of the underlying physics.”
The team made history last year when their Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) transmitted data over the 384,633 kilometers between the moon and Earth at a download rate of 622 megabits per second, faster than any radio frequency (RF) system.
They also transmitted data from the Earth to the moon at 19.44 megabits per second, a factor of 4,800 times faster than the best RF uplink ever used.
A leading event on laser science, the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) is an international forum for scientific and technical optics.
In the picture above: The ground terminal, with the sun reflecting off of the solar windows of the uplink telescopes. Credit: Robert LaFon, NASA / GSFC.