Moon has Broadband Too


The Lincoln Laboratory, MIT in collaboration with officials from NASA have finally made broadband on the moon a reality. The team from MIT has managed to develop the means by which lunar visitors can experience broadband speeds and connectivity to transfer data between the earth and moon.

MIT’s newly developed Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD), displayed speeds that were much faster than the ones we have on earth. While most places on earth are yet to get high-speed internet, it seems like the moon and its lunar visitors will have better speeds. The LLCD, an up-linking system is all set to be revealed as they debut the process, in June this year. The presentation will elaborate the process at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) in San Jose.

In a 30-day test conducted previously last year, the group at MIT managed to set up the LLCD to give decent speeds. Hitting download speeds of 622Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps, broadband on the moon is transmitted via the LLCD, that is configured as a part of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) research satellite, a lunar satellite. This made LLCD beat the fastest-ever radio communication to the moon by a factor of 4,800. Using lasers NASA hopes it can speed up communication with missions in space, which use the radio to talk to Earth,and allow a higher data transfer rate.The equipment is significantly less in weight, when compared to radio gear, giving it a selling point, given the high cost of lifting objects into space. Seamless connections made it possible to shoot a high-definition video between the Earth and the Moon, with slight delays.

LLCD has displayed hand-off laser connections between various ground-stations, just like a cell phone does from one cell tower to another. Additionally NASA reported, that the LLCD could function without the LADEE. They were able to program the lunar satellite to activate the LLCD terminal and have it point and communicate with the ground stations at any given time without precise radio commands. Don Cornwell, LLCD NASA, mission manager, hoped that the technology could serve as primary communications systems for future missions. The team promised new details about LLCD, giving the delegates a look at the raw performance of the laser-driven networking.

Mark Stevens, MIT, stated that on-orbit performance was excellent and matched predictions. It gave them a good understanding of the physics that went into it. The project, which uses telescopes at White Sands, New Mexico pulsates data in the form of invisible infrared light. A particular challenge with the procedure, was getting the rays to get through the Earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere can bend light and can distort information, resulting in a loss of data. To counter this loss, the four telescopes beamed the light through different columns of air where the distortion of the atmosphere is lesser, and decreased the rate of distortion and data loss.

NASA and MIT were visibly excited as they revealed the information about the LLCD technique. They plan on revealing more than what meets the eye at the conference, after all, they have done the impossible by setting up high-speed broadband on the moon.

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