NASA achieves 19.44Mbps data transfer to the moon, sets its sights on Mars

Posted by K R on

Internet speeds too slow? You might be able to download faster by moving to the moon, according to new research from NASA and MIT. These two entities teamed up to push the bounds of wireless communication, and have now successfully created a data uplink with the moon that clocks in at 19.44 Mbps. For reference, the average speed in the US is a paltry 7.4 Mbps. It’s not as simple as pointing an antenna at the moon and pushing ‘go.’ NASA and MIT employed an array of four telescopes at a ground terminal in New Mexico to send the signals. A laser transmitter was fed into each telescope and used to send coded pulses of infrared light with a total transmitted power of 40 watts. That was enough power to push the signal 384,633 km to a lunar satellite where less than one billionth of a watt was received. The team calls this the Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD). Transmitting light over such long distances is tricky as the beam spreads out. The atmosphere also causes turbulence that can distort the signal in unpredictable ways. Using four telescopes is essentially a redundancy system — the chances are much higher that one of the beams will always be on target, resulting in higher bandwidth that beats all existing radio frequency space communication methods. More via

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