Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration Mission Completes SuccessfullyCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: January 2, 2014 08:38AM
There is a pretty good chance we have all experienced poor wireless connections due to our distance from the source, whether it be a cell tower or a router. NASA experiences this too, but for them the distance between the transmitter and receiver can be thousands or millions of miles. To improve transmission speeds, NASA decided to try using laser communication, which would have the potential to transmit data significantly faster than the older radio technology they had been using.
The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) was launched aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) that, as you can guess, travelled to the Moon. For thirty days the researchers and engineers were testing LLCD to see just how viable it may be for other missions in the future. They discovered that it was able to transmit error-free information in less-than-ideal conditions, such as when the Moon was near the Sun, near the horizon, and had thin clouds passing between it and the receiving station. The researchers measured the download speed of LLCD at 622 Mbps and upload speed at 20 Mbps, over a distance of almost a quarter-of-a-million miles, making this a great success.
With such impressive numbers, it will not be surprising if laser communication becomes a new standard for space missions. Before that happens though, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) mission will test connecting two Earth-based stations with a laser bounced, off of a satellite transmitting data at a rate of one billion bits per second.