from the no-sharks-required dept.
Months after its July fly-by, New Horizons is still squeezing its images down pipe measured in bits-per-second – and that's a problem space boffins would like to solve in the future.
As we know from NASA's successful LADEE test, lasers are a viable and truly broadband space comms medium – but firing a laser from (say) Mars and receiving it on Earth would need a Bloody Big Telescope.
That's what boffins from Japan and Madrid reckon the world will have, once the proposed Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is built, so in this ArXiv paper, they propose using that instrument for deep-space optical communications.
The CTA is going to have dozens of instruments of varying size (from 6m up to 24m) in both hemispheres, a requirement for deep space communications, and as Alberto Carrasco-Casado (National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Tokyo) and collaborators José Manuel Sánchez-Pena and Ricardo Vergaz (University of Madrid) note, the instruments should be good enough to do double-service as communications receivers.
That's because handfuls of photons are exactly what the CTA receivers are designed to detect – the tiny flashes of light that cosmic rays and gamma rays produce when they collide with the upper atmosphere.
Note: "Boffin" == "Egghead" == Scientist.
[See DSN Now (Deep Space Network - Now) to follow which satellites NASA is currently communicating with. -Ed.]